Health Information Technology
Health Information Technology
Health Information Technology refers to information technology that is specifically applied and installed in health care institutions. It goes a long way in supporting and assisting secure and monitored exchange of private health information usually between payers, consumers, quality monitors and health providers (Bates, 2010). This emerging trend in health can be seen as an efficient tool which aims at improving the efficiency, quality and safety of any health institution. Additionally, HIT contributes greatly in reducing health-care related costs, decreasing the paperwork that is usually associated with maintaining health records as well as improving communication in real time among the different medical professionals.
The process of implementing a heath information system strategic plan can take as little time as three months or even as long as a couple of years. Having put that in mind, it’s therefore important to consider the important steps that would in turn ensure that the plan succeeds after implementation. The most important step is to ensure that the objectives and the goals of the HIT are well established and highlighted right from the beginning (Mettler, 2016). The health institution should clearly state what exactly is expected to be achieved once the system is installed. The objective could be elimination of paperwork or to enhance communication among other reasons. This in turns ensures that the expected end-users are familiarized with the systems as well as its application and techniques.
Moreover, the institution should assess its current status. In this case, it would means assessing whether the end-users have the required experience related to electronic record keeping or other skills required to operate the system. If they lack such know-how, consequently, training would have to be done to done to ensure that the plan runs smoothly. It is therefore important for any institution to prioritize on fixing any problems that were identified during the assessment stage. Consequently, the organization is able to nurture and develop more effective and efficient processes and alternatives during and before the implementation stag (Mettler, 2016).. In turn, the process is assured of providing solutions by increasing its overall usability.
More importantly, the implementation process requires clearly outlined protocol and leadership. This is because adequate communication from the right source is very important in ensuring that the objectives are met. The selected leaders should be fully committed to the success of the strategic plan. Furthermore, it’s necessary to compare various support services and products from various vendors before selecting and installing a health information system. This can be done through trade shows, online demonstrations, conferences and vendor visits (Bates, 2010). This ensures that the health organization makes very informed decisions which in turn make the implementation process smooth.
Indeed, carrying out a cost- benefit analysis is mandatory in the implementation of the plan. When selecting the right information system, there should be a balance between the ease of use by the end-users, cost and functionality. As such, it’s important to understand the anticipated benefits as well as the full implementation cost. The health organization should research widely on the available subsidies from health care systems and regional or national extension centers which in turn reduce cost especially for practices which offer primary care. Moreover, physicians tend to focus on direct costs while ignoring other costs such as training, lost productivity, connectivity with third-party payers, labs and hospitals which should also be considered (Fisher, 2012).
When formulating and implementing a HIT strategic plan, it is important to have a steering committee to ensure that the plan falls into place. The committee can be defined as a taskforce formed to oversee the long-term goal of successful implementation of a HIT plan. Such a committee should have clearly defined objectives and a particular timeline set to achieve them. Normally, an ideal steering committee can comprise of at least 12 members. It should include members from the particular areas set to be impacted by the said project who should meet as frequently as possible. The importance of having a steering committee should be evangelizing the project and consequently creating the correct tone for the project. It should comprise of physicians, administration, IT officers, nurses as well as doctors (Bates, 2010).
For a strategic plan to be successful, it must include some specific elements. One of those elements is a clearly outlined vision which helps in bringing alignment to the entire plan. This helps in unifying the efforts of and inspiring all the stakeholders and driving them towards the set goal. Secondly, accountability is a major element in strategic planning. This ensures that it is clear who is in charge (Ebner, 2014). Additionally, it reduces conflicts associated with ‘finger-pointing’. Thirdly, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, treats) analysis should be incorporated in the planning process. This ensures that an organization identifies the costs and benefits while still in the planning stage.
The nursing department should be included in the steering committee as the nursing leader clearly understands the clinical workflow which should be included in the HIT development plan. The leader from that department can also inspire the nurses to embrace and accept change. The Information Technology department should also be incorporated in the steering committee as they can assist in installation of the hardware and the software. Representatives from the administration department should also be included as they can contribute on the importance of reducing paperwork associated with record-keeping (Fisher, 2012).
Adler-Milstein, J., & Bates, D. W. (2010). Paperless healthcare: Progress and challenges of an IT-enabled healthcare system. Business Horizons, 53(2), 119-130.
Ebner, D. (2016). Formal and Informal Strategic Planning: The Interdependency between Organization, Performance and Strategic Planning.
Mettler,T. (2016). Anticipating mismatches of HIT investments: Developing a viability-fit model for e-health services. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 85(1), 104-115
Moore, A., & Fisher, K. (2012). Healthcare Information Technology and Medical-Surgical Nurses. CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 30(3), 157-163