More Hospitals Tapping Into Health IT to Boost Quality of Care
Last Updated September 24, 2018
From ensuring the right drug is administered to the right patient at the right time to monitoring high-risk patients for follow-up treatment, more healthcare providers are turning to health information technology to enhance care.
More than 9 in 10 hospitals use electronic health records and other health IT tools to document physician notes, discharge summaries and diagnostic test results, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA).
Similarly, 94% of health systems and hospitals verify patient information with bar codes, while 97% electronically prescribe medication and enter provider orders via computer.
“Hospitals and health systems have integrated patient safety support into their health IT systems and built in functions that reduce the risk of error,” the AHA report found.
In addition to the promise of enhanced quality and efficiency, healthcare providers nationwide face regulatory and financial imperatives to transition to electronic health records (EHR).
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has outlined a 10-year vision for the establishment of a health IT ecosystem.
“By 2024, individuals, care providers, communities, and researchers should have an array of interoperable products and services that allow the health care system to continuously learn and advance the goal of improved health care,” the federal agency stated.
In its July 2018 Trendwatch report, the AHA noted the use of health IT increased significantly over a five-year span. Between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of hospitals and health systems using health IT supports for:
- Clinical documentation of physician notes increased from 59% to 95%
- Clinical documentation of discharge summaries increased from 81% to 97%
- Diagnostic test results increased from 82% to 92%
- Bar coding for patient verification increased from 68% to 94%
- Computerized provider order entry of medications increased from 72% to 97%
“In almost all hospitals, the health IT system allows providers to compare a patient’s inpatient and preadmission medication lists,” the association noted.
Algorithms and other digital tools also allow healthcare providers to analyze data to flag high-risk individuals for additional case management and intervention. As of 2017, 68% of hospitals and health systems used electronic clinical data to support such monitoring, up from 53% in 2014, the AHA study found.
Did You Know?
Jobs requiring at least a master’s degree will increase by 13.8% nationwide from 2014 to 2024, the fastest-growing employment segment by entry-level education.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Study: Education a Key Factor for Employers
Widespread adoption of health IT is spurring job growth for qualified professionals.
Nationwide, employment of medical and health services managers, including health information managers, will jump 20% from 2016 to 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects. That’s almost triple the projected job growth rate (7%) for all occupations during the same decade.
Among hospital leaders who participated in the 2018 HIMSS U.S. Leadership and Workforce Survey, 37% said their health IT workforce had grown over 2017 and 34% indicated they were still seeking candidates.
Employment opportunities can be determined by many factors, including industry type, regional market conditions and a candidate’s work experience.
Educational qualifications also are a prime consideration for employers. For informatics-related roles, a master’s degree or other advanced credentials will be especially beneficial, according to research by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
The AHIMA study, published in 2018, found that the ongoing implementation of EHR systems and other challenges within health information management are generating career advancement and professional development opportunities.
In its Trendwatch report, the American Hospital Association noted that the expanding integration of health IT means it will be increasingly important for healthcare providers to ensure those systems are designed and used optimally.
“While the promise of health IT for quality and safety improvement has begun to materialize, there is still more to achieve,” the AHA reported.
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