Health information technology has become one of the most important topics in healthcare. In a post-pandemic world, hospitals, researchers, and patients alike have become keenly aware of the need to digitize medicine. Although many healthcare facilities already use electronic records, their methods of organization and analysis are often lacking due to old legacy systems. Upgrading to a cloud-based informatics system brings benefits for all stakeholders. Patients, healthcare providers, and even researchers will see immediate improvements by implementing the latest technology.
What Are the Benefits of Health Information Technology?
Benefits for Patients
Patients benefit greatly from using health information technology. Going digital makes getting healthcare more convenient. Patients get more flexibility in choosing locations to visit as their data can be more easily shared between facilities. Furthermore, response time decreases since medical professionals have fast access to patient data. Telemedicine also becomes a possibility for patients with electronic records.
There are also important privacy concerns to consider. Patients are understandably worried about their personal information being leaked. There are laws that can punish healthcare providers who let patient information escape. Switching to a better healthcare information system helps to mitigate these risks and gives your patients greater confidence.
While consumers are relatively nonchalant when it comes to their privacy in certain scenarios, medicine is one of the exceptions. An AMA survey found that three out of four respondents were concerned about their personal medical information and their privacy. Contrast this with the 61% of Americans who “would like” to increase their privacy on social media, but it isn’t a dealbreaker. The same AMA survey showed that 92% of people believed health data should never be sold.
Clearly, health data is in a separate category when it comes to privacy. This is completely understandable. After all, health data can reveal some of the most personal decisions a person makes. Information kept in medical records could be embarrassing if made public. A more advanced health information technology system can anonymize records while in storage, encrypt transmissions, and monitor access to ensure that records are never exposed to anyone besides authorized personnel.
Access to Telemedicine
Prior to 2020, telemedicine was a rare occurrence. However, these last few years have proven its efficacy and patients are willing to have virtual consultations rather than drive to a doctor’s office. Nevertheless, for telemedicine to work smoothly, doctors need to be able to pull patients’ files quickly and update them while in a virtual session. This is a stark departure from how most offices work, where secretaries and clerks typically pull files when a patient arrives at the office.
Telemedicine also benefits practitioners as it’s possible to see more patients in less time. Patients who would otherwise be unable to visit during office hours due to schedule conflicts can now receive attention. Simple procedural visits like prescription refills can be done using telemedicine as well.
Whether online or in the office, modern medical information technology results in faster service for patients. Just the time saved from not having to pull out a manila folder with the patient’s information is a huge benefit to both the patient and the practitioner. However, going digital also enables other features that make it easier for patients to get the attention they need. For instance, you can allow patients to book appointments directly rather than calling the office.
Likewise, you can enable online bill paying so that patients don’t have to come in for a payment. Health information technology goes beyond keeping records of patients; it enables an entirely digital healthcare ecosystem where your patients and staff see major benefits.
Benefits for Medical Professionals
Speaking of staff, using health IT systems provides a host of benefits for medical professionals of all kinds. By having access to information, everyone in the healthcare chain from front desk workers to nurses to doctors can provide top-quality service to each patient. Healthcare facilities frequently dedicate large portions of their budget to billing and accounting staff. Going digital can automate much of this work, obtaining the same results with fewer workers.
However, that’s just the beginning. After some time with a digital system, you’ll likely see patient outcomes improve. You will also be able to learn more about your business and improve overall quality. Communication with specialists and other medical facilities, like laboratories, will also become more agile and streamlined.
Better Information for Better Outcomes
One of the biggest problems for medical practitioners is medical malpractice claims. Even though doctors make every effort to give patients the care they need, mistakes happen. Most commonly, these mistakes stem from using paper charts or older computer systems. Doctors receive the wrong information about a patient, or errors are introduced into the system, leading to improper treatment. Similarly, malpractice claims can appear after failing to inform a patient about their rights or the risks of a procedure.
Going completely digital greatly reduces the risk of these problems. For one, patient data is much more accurate, and it’s impossible to accidentally grab the wrong chart from a pile of folders. Furthermore, as treatments are recommended for a patient, the system can automatically call up the appropriate informed consent forms and information sheets so that patients are properly informed before agreeing to a procedure. It’s even possible for patients to sign documents virtually.
Access to the Latest Data
Patients with complex issues typically have to visit specialists or send samples to laboratories for analysis. It can take time for doctors to receive results from other practitioners or labs, which slows down treatment and creates unnecessary waits between visits. With fully digital records, it’s possible for one office’s system to update another’s. Lab results can be immediately added to a patient’s record. Automation can even notify doctors with recommendations based on lab results.
That’s not the only data that doctors will gain by going digital, though. Health information technology platforms can also provide useful information about emerging techniques and medications. Analytics software works in the background to derive insights from this data. Without compromising patients’ privacy, these systems can identify similar cases and report the outcomes of their treatments, helping doctors choose the best treatment for each patient.
Improved Communication With Other Healthcare Workers
Health IT systems can also facilitate much of the back-office work in a medical facility. For example, scheduling staff to ensure that enough nurses and doctors are present at all times can be handled automatically by a system that considers each employee’s availability. Payroll can be automated as well using the same system. Inventory can also be managed and automated to simplify procurement and ensure that stock never runs out.
The whole system is HIPAA compliant and facilitates inspections or other regulatory impositions. The system also allows administrators to customize permissions. Staff can have permission to view information about their assigned patients or get access to all patients’ information related to their specific roles. Access can be limited to prevent data breaches.
Benefits for Researchers
Clinical research can proceed at a much faster pace when coupled with technology. Technology is how COVID-19 vaccines were approved in record time. Historically, clinical trials took much longer because researchers had to manually collect paper consent forms and organize them. Paperwork only became more burdensome from there, as patient reports and follow-up records also had to be collected through in-person meetings. Modern medical IT speeds up this process by digitizing these documents.
As a result, researchers can secure study participants and collect data from them with ease. Smartphone apps have even been used to feed researchers’ databases and facilitate data collection even further. This has made it possible to get approval for medicines much faster than before. Trials at different stages can even be run concurrently to maximize efficiency. In addition, researchers have access to other benefits.
Faster Data Analysis
With data collection being much simpler, the focus turns toward data analysis. Many medical researchers have had to perform analysis manually or with the use of their own computers. However, as data sets become larger, the average person or PC simply cannot handle the task. Using a cloud-based health IT platform, it’s possible to use cloud computing to process data much faster. With an entire data center’s worth of computing power at your disposal, there’s no task too large.
Modern technology also makes it easier to find participants further away from home. Rather than be limited to patients in the immediate geographical area, doctors can expand their studies to include a broader array of people. This, in turn, produces higher-quality research and trustworthy results. We expect these tools to become standard operating procedure for medical research in short order. The overwhelmingly positive response we’ve received so far is evidence that this is the future of research.
At RiverAxe, we’re committed to providing the latest technology to healthcare providers, researchers, and government agencies, all with the goal of providing better care to patients nationwide. We’re located in the heart of Washington DC, which helps us keep our fingers on the pulse of the nation’s healthcare agenda. To learn more about RiverAxe and our technology, contact RiverAxe today for a consultation.