The health and care sectors are transforming rapidly, the thought that IT had nothing to do with health and care is passing now. Just as other fields, IT systems have found multiple applications to the health and care industries. Healthcare IT systems provide huge benefits by not only speeding up and streamlining processes but by also improving patient safety and the quality of service and cutting costs. It is widely believed that IT solutions used in the health and care industries mainly benefit hospitals and healthcare professionals, that health and care information technology solutions are there to save staff time, and the health and care facility money. In private healthcare, this of course this leads to bigger profits. In public healthcare such as the NHS, this can lead to redistributing funds to more front line services. However that is often overlooked is the benefits to the patient.
The quality pf health services on offer is of increasing concern across the health and care industries. Patients worry about the quality of their healthcare and this is the last thing people should be worrying about when they’re sick. Recent studies have shown that medical negligence is the third highest cause of death in the USA. A scary statistic that the third biggest killers in the USA are the people trying to save lives.
This breaks down as
- 12000 deaths per year from surgery that is not required
- 7000 deaths per year from errors in medication
- 20000 deaths per year from other errors in medical facilities
- 80000 deaths per year from the spread of infection in hospitals
- 106000 deaths per year from non-error, adverse effects of medication
IT solutions in the healthcare industry provides new hopes in raising the quality of healthcare provsion and ensuring the safety of the patient and saving lives.
Of course it’s true that IT solutions in the healthcare industry do save time and money for the staff of the medical facility, however a bigger advantage is to put controls in place which look to limit medical errors. Healthcare IT software such as practice management software, billing software, pharmacy systems, out of hours systems and other healthcare IT solutions are designed as a way to keep up to date patient records and advanced systems can ensure an improvement in patient safety and the quality of health and care provision.
Managing a healthcare facility, whether that be a doctor’s practice, a hospital or even a palliative care home is an involved process; the list of tasks are endless and include things like keeping patient information up to date, diagnosis, treatment or care plans, lab tests etc. Because of the length and complexity of the process, it’s prone to human error, which ultimately could lead to adverse effects for the patient. Often it’s incorrect or incomplete patient information or delays in the information arriving when emergency care is needed are major causes of medical negligence. For example, a patient might have a documented allergy to a medication, but if emergency care staff don’t know about it quickly, they might give the medication to the patient leading to a potentially deadly conclusion.
Healthcare IT systems make sure of the quick, accurate and proper recording of patient information which can be shared electronically between medical practices and hospitals in case of emergency. The information is stored logicalled and scientifically making it easier to find and act on. These capabilities lead to the enhancement of patient care and the safety of patients.
Jim Seward writes about Healthcare IT software as well as other business and health related software systems