IT applications in a healthcare organization need to be used in order to lower the costs of care and also to improve the quality. One way of lowering the costs of care would be to utilize automated IT applications. These applications would be tracking the care of the patient right from entry of the patient into the healthcare organization to treatment outcomes. The doctors would not have to monitor the treatment of the patient more actively, but would be provided reminders, prompts, alerts, etc, so that appropriate decisions can be made. Besides, as the less amount of burden would rest on the healthcare professionals, they could take up more number of cases, thus effectively helping to reduce the costs of care. In every process of the healthcare organization, there may be certain process that can be automated or semi-automated. Once automation is done, automatically the costs of healthcare would come down (even though there is some amount of initial investment). The physician or other healthcare provider would be involved only when a clinical-decision is to be made. As the automated system would enable the best practices, the length of stay of the patient in the hospital would reduce, thus also helping to reduce the costs (American Health Systems, 2003).
An Electronic medical record (EMR) system would effectively help improve the quality of care. This EMR system would contain several individual applications (such as e-prescriptions, alerts and reminders, critical reporting, lab results, etc), which have the ability to reduce mistakes and prevent the development of medical errors. Use of the e-prescription system would help to make prescriptions more legible and would enable easy dispensing of drugs. Besides, the patient would also find it easy and would not commit errors in consuming the drugs (better patient compliance and adherence to therapy). During the prescription process, the physician would be informed about potential drug reactions and conditions in which certain drugs would be contraindicated. The chances of medical errors would be significantly reduced. Also medical findings that need to be addressed immediately (for example reporting of a case of CSF leakage following maxilla-facial trauma) are better handled through an EMR system. The physician and relevant healthcare professionals can be alerted and action initiated immediately, thus saving critical time (Ovretveit, 2007).
Overall IT can help to improve the quality of care and also reduce the costs. Automated processes can remove the need of using a healthcare professional and using an EMR system would help to improve the quality of care. An advanced EMR system that can be integrated with automation would definitely help the organization for quality improvements and reduction of costs. Use of such EMR systems need to be considered by the healthcare organization.
American Health System (2003). Automated Care Plan System to Lower Healthcare Costs, Retrieved on November 12, 2008, from Status Report Web site: http://statusreports.atp.nist.gov/reports/94-04-0017TEXT.html
Ovretveit, J Et al (2007). “Improving Quality through Effective Implementation of Information Technology in Healthcare.” IJQHC, 19(5):259-266. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/566047