Healthcare information technology has played a major role in the advancement of healthcare in recent years. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 helped to transform healthcare facilities and modernize health IT practices. The primary intent of the HITECH Act was to encourage providers to adopt electronic health records. In addition, HITECH increased privacy and security protections for healthcare data. Significant financial incentives were made available to support these changes, and over time, providers who did not comply with the requirements were penalized.
HITECH spurred the widespread adoption of EHRs and the expansion of healthcare information technology (IT). Today, healthcare IT is a crucial component of the healthcare system. Healthcare IT includes the electronic tools and systems that are used by providers, professionals, and patients to store, share, and analyze health information.
In addition to improving information-sharing, adopting technology in healthcare settings helps clinicians, care teams, and staff reduce the amount of time they spend on administrative tasks and focus more time on delivering clinical care and engaging with patients, reducing burnout.
The Benefits of Healthcare IT
The adoption of healthcare IT has made significant impacts on the U.S. healthcare system. Technology for electronic medical record keeping (EHRs, EMRs, Healthcare CRMs) allow providers and care teams to track patient health information better, allowing for patient-centered care during office visits and outside office hours. Healthcare IT allows patient notes and test results to be made available in real-time to authorized providers, enables prescriptions to be transmitted immediately to pharmacies, provides a comprehensive view of a patient’s historical care, and allows for more consistent follow-up for ongoing health conditions.
Healthcare IT also enables providers to streamline administrative and operational services and supports innovative practices in healthcare automation. In addition, healthcare IT contributes to streamlining care, faster detection and diagnosis of healthcare issues, stronger patient relationships, and reduced costs.
Healthcare IT systems support streamlined, coordinated care across multidisciplinary teams. Care coordination and care management programs make it easier for providers and care teams to efficiently collect data, update patient records, and communicate with colleagues about the patient’s care plan. Welkin’s care coordination technology platform links all the care team members together and paves the way for patient-centered, proactive care.
Faster Detection and Diagnosis of Issues
The deployment of healthcare IT strategies amplifies advances in modern medicine. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is one such use of technology to monitor patient health indicators and transmit data to providers. Significant changes in patient vital signs are flagged, and an alert is sent to the patient’s care team, allowing for quicker detection of complications.
Some healthcare IT solutions utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to process large amounts of data, identify key patterns, and inform clinical diagnostic processes. AI can support providers and identify certain conditions at earlier stages, allowing for treatment or monitoring to start earlier.
Stronger Patient Relationships
Healthcare IT implementation supports stronger patient engagement and relationships with care teams. Automating patient engagement processes like patient surveys and appointment reminders support patient relationships and reduces the administrative burden on providers.
Communicating with patients through text, email, and video lets providers and care teams better maintain patient relationships and promote adherence to a patient’s care plan. Healthcare IT allows providers and patients to choose the communication and engagement platform that best meets their needs.
Lower Cost of Services
The adoption of healthcare IT also contributes to lowering costs in the healthcare system in many ways, such as:
- Increased efficiency in inpatient and outpatient settings
- Improved population health management
- More efficient drug monitoring and utilization
- Reduced hospital stays
Healthcare IT enables providers and care teams to have the most up-to-date, comprehensive patient healthcare record at their fingertips when making key decisions about a plan of care. This capability reduces the occurrence of duplicative appointments or lab tests, enables providers to make more accurate diagnoses, and reduces the risk of potential complications or adverse events. While this results in lower costs of services, the patient experience is also greatly improved.
Where Is Healthcare IT Having the Most Impact?
The wide recognition of healthcare IT benefits has contributed to the widespread adoption of various solutions, including virtual visits, remote patient monitoring, APIs, and electronic health records.
Virtual visits are patient-provider visits that take place over a phone or video appointment. Also known as telemedicine, providers are expanding the use and availability of this tool, largely supported by advancements in healthcare IT technology along with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Telemedicine lets patients see their provider from the comfort of their own home at a time convenient to their schedule. Connecting with a provider from home also allows a patient to include a caregiver or family member in the visit for support. Patients can also avoid crowded waiting rooms, reducing the risk of exposure to infectious illnesses. Providers are able to see patients in their home environment and may offer additional context and clues to a patient’s condition.
Telehealth benefits both the patient and provider experience. Welkin helps providers and care teams implement telehealth solutions and improve patient outcomes.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) gives providers and care teams the ability to monitor patients and detect potential health complications. Healthcare IT is paired with biometric or wearable devices to measure patient health indicators and trigger alerts for potential issues.
For example, RPM may focus on a patient’s heart rate, respiratory rate, or blood pressure, taking measurements and flagging any indicators that may signal potential risks or complications.
RPM allows providers to closely monitor patients with chronic or serious health conditions and respond more quickly and effectively when needed. RPM also gives patients a sense of security.
Application Programming Interfaces
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) support healthcare IT and interoperability. APIs are components of Electronic Record Keeping Software (EHRs, EMRs, Healthcare CRMs) and healthcare IT that help software programs communicate with one another. For example, an app on the phone can use APIs to update a patient’s health record with data from a fitness tracker. EHRs and other software types provide APIs so that patients can use tools to access and share their data.
APIs can also allow providers to connect patient record platforms with innovative tools to analyze patient data, connect with clinical resources, and inform patient care decisions. Welkin Health’s APIs for example, allow providers to integrate with external provider systems, websites, and apps. Flexibility is key.
Electronic Health Records
An electronic health record (EHR) is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart. It includes a patient’s medical history, clinical data, progress notes, medications, and other health information. EHRs allow provider immediate access to a patient’s health record and provides many benefits to patients and providers.
EHRs reduce paperwork and administrative processes for providers and care teams, and make it easier for members of a care team to access comprehensive, up-to-date patient information. Coordinated care is enabled by EHRs, and patients are less likely to need to repeat medical tests and procedures, since all care providers have access to all records and test results. EHRs also allow patients to have direct access to their own patient record, which enables patients to better track their own care and find information more quickly in their patient record. Some EHRs allow patients to securely communicate with their provider directly.
A Crucial Technology Service
Since the implementation of the HITECH Act and the expansion of healthcare IT, patients and providers have seen significant improvements in the healthcare system. Healthcare IT allows for better communication among providers and care teams, reduces the likelihood of medical errors, allows quicker access to test results, prevents adverse drug reactions, enables providers to monitor patient compliance, and protects patient privacy.
Healthcare IT and automation lets providers focus on delivering high-quality and patient-centered care, while reducing administrative and operational burdens. Healthcare IT enables better coordination among providers and care teams, and can reduce provider burnout.
As healthcare IT advances and improves the delivery of healthcare, benefits to providers and patients will grow. Healthcare IT is at the forefront of healthcare services and provides levels of integration and automation that will be crucial for the future of healthcare. Ready to learn more about how healthcare IT can take your organization to the next level? Check out more information on all of the IT services that Welkin offers.