Thesis: How Has Technology Impacted How Healthcare Is Ran Today and in the Future

Pages: 11 (3010 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 30  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Healthcare  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Healthcare: How Technology Has Changed Medicine

OBJECITVE

The objective of this work is to examine how technology has effectively changed the practice of medicine.

(1) Electronic health record (EHR): Originally, the EHRs were viewed as electronic file cabinets to hold patient data from various sources however, they are now viewed as a part of an automated order-entry and patient-tracking system providing real-time access to patient data, as well as a continuous longitudinal record of their care.

(2) Computerized provider order entry (CPOE): CPOE in its basic form is typically a medication ordering and fulfillment system. More advanced CPOE will also include lab orders, radiology studies, procedures, discharges, transfers, and referrals.

(3) Clinical decision support system (CDSS): CDSS provides physicians and nurses with real-time diagnostic and treatment recommendations. The term covers a variety of technologies ranging from simple alerts and prescription drug interaction warnings to full clinical pathways and protocols. CDSS may be used as part of CPOE and EHR.

(4) Picture archiving and communications system (PACS): This technology captures and integrates diagnostic and radiological images from various devices (e.g., x-ray, MRI, computed tomography scan), stores them, and disseminates them to a medical record, a clinical data repository, or other points of care.

(5) Bar coding: Bar coding in a health care environment is similar to bar-code scanning in other environments: An optical scanner is used to electronically capture information encoded on a product. Initially, it will be used for medication (for example, matching drugs to patients by using bar codes on both the medications and patients' arm bracelets), but other applications may be pursued, such as medical devices, lab, and radiology.

(6) Radio frequency identification (RFID): This technology tracks patients throughout the hospital, and links lab and medication tracking through a wireless communications system. It is neither mature nor widely available, but may be an alternative to bar coding.

(7) Automated dispensing machines (ADMs): This technology distributes medication doses.

(8) Electronic materials management (EMM): Health care organizations use EMM to track and manage inventory of medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and other materials. This technology is similar to enterprise resource planning systems used outside of health care.

(9) Interoperability: This concept refers to electronic communication among organizations so that the data in one IT system can be incorporated into another. Discussions of interoperability focus on development of standards for content and messaging, among other areas, and development of adequate security and privacy safeguards. (Report to Congress, June, 2004, p.160)

INTRODUCTION

The implementation of information technology in the field of health care has not progressed as smoothly and has not been effectively integrated across domains as it was hoped might be the case. There are still technical and practical issues that must be overcome and as well the design and development process of information technology applications must consider key issues that have previously been appointed less important than other issues in design and development of information technology applications. As well, the implementation of information technology has progressed at a much slower rate than was originally expected however, until the issues identified in this report are addressed this will not be possible. This report will conduct a review of the literature that has been published in the past five years in order to determine what issues must be addressed in order to effectuate the implementation of information technology applications across all health care providers locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally in the future.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Electronic Medical Records

The work of Brookstone (2004) entitled: "Electronic Medical Records: Creating the Environment for Change" states that "as physicians become more advanced users of technology, they are exposed to a wider range of tools and technology-based clinical management systems: software and hardware intended to solve problems they face in clinical practice." (Brookstone, 2004) Brookstone states that the level of change "required to implement these solutions is significant and requires a methodological review of work processes before implementation. Even in the most organized practices, it is unlikely that there has been a clear enough documentation of workflow relating to the management of specific clinical data." (Brookstone, 2004)

Electronic Medical Record Systems

Providers are enabled through electronic medical record (EMR) system which is fully implemented to "easily share patient information, legibly document patient visit, prescribe medication with built-in decision support in terms of drug-drug and drug-disease interaction warnings and create automated patient-recall programs." (Brookstone, 2004) Brookstone states that the ability "to view laboratory results within the EMR system significantly increases the richness of the clinical environment by allowing clinical decision support as part of chronic disease management." (Brookstone, 2004) It requires adequate preparation for physicians to benefit from the electronic medical record system. The electronic medical record systems are being implemented by physicians with "varying degrees of success." As "some systems have been quite successful while other have been complete disasters." (Brookstone, 2004)

Barriers to Implementation of EMR Systems

Brookstone (2004) identifies specific barriers to electronic medical record implementation systems to include those as follows:

(1) Software immaturity. Software development is not advanced enough, despite extensive pre-implementation evaluation.

(2) Training issues. Both physicians and staff vary significantly in terms of computer expertise, ranging from novice to advanced users.

(3) Privacy concerns. Difficulties arise over who will be entitled to access confidential patient information, and when EMR software architecture does not allow users to easily restrict access to certain providers. (Brookstone, 2004)

Barriers to investment of IT include the "…cost and complexity of IT implementation which often necessitates significant work process and cultural changes." (Report to Congress, June, 2004, p.157) Stated as a major barrier to electronic medical records being adopted on a widespread basis is "the limited ability to access health information from external sources." (Brookstone, 2004)

Interfaces are described as "pieces of software that allow different systems to communicate with one another and securely transfer information in one or two directions." (Brookstone, 2004) The electronic medical record, when no interface is present "is restricted in its ability to provide a comprehensive view of patient care. Interfaces are complex and costly to develop." (Brookstone, 2004) Brookstone states that there is a need for "a simplified standards-based approach to creating interfaces." Brookstone states that there is currently an existing 'value-gap' "in terms of where physicians are and where they need to be in order to implement an EMR system. The value-gap can be defined as the difference between the efficiencies gained using the current level of technology in a specific medical practice and the total cost of making the jump to the next level of technology. The total cost must be measured in the time, expense, training needs, systems change, loss of productivity, and pain in implementing a new technology." (Brookstone, 2004)

Drivers of Investment in IT

In a 2004 Report to Congress entitled "New Approaches in Medicare" it is stated that information technology (IT) has the potential to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of health. Diffusion of IT in health care is generally low but surveys indicate that providers plan to increase their investments." (p.1) Drivers of investment in IT are stated to include:

(1) the promise of quality; and (2) efficiency gains. (Report to Congress, June, 2004)

Barriers to investment of IT include the "…cost and complexity of IT implementation which often necessitates significant work process and cultural changes." (p.157)

Characteristics of the Health Care Market

The 2004 Report to Congress states that certain characteristics of the health care market -- including payment policies that reward volume rather than quality, and a fragmented delivery system -- can also pose barriers to IT adoption." (p.157) The provision of new methods for providers and their patients to readily access and use health information, information technology (IT) has the potential to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care." (Report to Congress, June, 2004, p.158) Despite this, very few health care providers have adopted IT fully. Low diffusion is stated to be due in part to the "complexity of IT investment, which goes beyond acquiring technology to changing work processes and cultures, and ensuring that physicians, nurses and other staff use it." (Report to Congress, June, 2004, p.158)

It is additionally stated that there is a great deal that remains unknown about the "role of IT in the health care setting." (Report to Congress, June, 2004, p.158) The delivery of quality health care makes a requirement of providers and patients in the integration of complex information from many different sources therefore "increasing the ability of physicians, nurses, clinical technicians and others to readily access and use the right information about their patients should improve care." (Report to Congress, June, 2004, p.159) The ability for patients in obtaining information that allows them to manage their condition better and that would improve communication with the health care system could also result in an improvement of the "efficiency and quality of care." (Report to Congress, June, 2004, p.159)

The Report to Congress states that both the private and the public health care sectors have "engaged in numerous efforts for promote use… [END OF PREVIEW]

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