There is no question that technology is causing massive changes in how healthcare is being managed. Medical IT solutions have aided the way people are being cared for worldwide from hospitals, clinics and health centers. It has helped provide more accurate diagnosis, reduced medical management expenses, helped cut down on medical errors and has made the industry more efficient on both the administrative and medical side. Ultimately, incorporating technology in a medical practice will help save time and money.
This influx of new technology does not come without some concerns. New hardware and software can be difficult to understand and may result in a hesitancy to adopt, but the benefits of such technology cannot be overlooked. Medical facilities risk being left behind by more technologically advanced health centers that have more efficient workforces and happier patients. The positives and negatives need to be weighed out carefully in order to determine if specific technology is worth adopting. The following are some of the things that should be considered prior to implementing new hardware or software:
More efficient workforce. Adopting new technology allows your medical staff to offload many of the day to day administrative tasks including: appointment scheduling, medical billing, management of patient health records and much more. This improvement in workforce efficiency can free up a lot of time so your staff can focus more on patient care and other aspects of customer service.
Digitized Health Records. Entering data in a centralized, electronic database allows patients to access their health records with the click of a button, providing them with the opportunity to review and submit any corrections instantly. Test results can be accessed as soon as they become available.
Digitized health records provide benefits to healthcare staff as well. Doctors and nurses are able to access real time health records that will make patient care safer and more reliable. Using handheld or portable devices for entering patient data will help ensure that all important information is updated accurately and efficiently. Additionally, staff are able to submit medical claims at a much faster rate.
Improved Patient Communications. Medical facilities can implement a chat feature that is incorporated to a company website or accessed through client profiles. This emphasizes easier communications between medical staff and patients in regards to questions, concerns and follow ups on appointments. Virtual visits are another form of communication that allow patients attend appointments from the comfort of their home, this can help if a doctor or specialist is a long distance from the patient or if a patient is too sick to leave their home. Virtual appointments also provide scheduling benefits for busy doctors, who can now schedule patients at times that best fit their schedule.
Lack of Network Interconnectivity. Not all technology will work seamlessly together. Having the right technology that works well together is critical to taking advantage of workplace and financial efficiencies. If certain systems don’t work well together, patient care can suffer as some information may be missing or not accurate.
Patient Data that is not so Private. Many healthcare facilities use large cloud providers for data storage, my first question for these providers would be what they can and can’t do with the data. Many cloud providers have long service agreements that outline what they could possibly do with the data. This legal terminology can be difficult to understand and overwhelming to read through.
An additional privacy issue emerges when you consider how data is transmitted from the cloud to users. The cloud uses hardware and software to transmit data through an internet connection. Different types and quality of devices and internet services can be used by doctors and patients to access this information, leaving open the possibility for different types of vulnerabilities if they are not careful.
Hacked Medical Records. In 2018, UnityPoint Health had to notify 1.4 million patients that their confidential records may have been compromised through a data breach. This data breach included very sensitive information such as medical data, test results, credit card information, social security numbers, and much more. The financial ramifications are large and the resulting reputation damage can put a medical facility out of business.
In the end, there is always benefits and risks that need to be weighed before implementing new technology. Minimizing the risks are key, even if the benefits far outweigh any negatives. Taking the proper precautions such as using a highly rate anti-virus, having a dependable network in place, consulting IT professionals before adopting new technology and using a cloud provider that keeps your data private are all steps that should be taken prior to any new technology implementation.
Do you have any specific concerns when new technology is implemented at your facility? Please submit any tips or concerns related to technology implementation by submitting a reply, located at the bottom of this blog post.