What is healthcare information technology and what are its benefits?
From transportation to manufacturing to education, information technology is influencing virtually every industry today. The healthcare industry has experienced a significant transformation brought in by information technology. From electronically checking in patients and updating their medical records to digitally forwarding blood test results to patients, information technology is transforming the healthcare industry by leaps and bounds. Experts estimate that by the end of 2024, the healthcare information technology market could reach USD 390.7 bn.
This post looks at how information technology and healthcare go hand-in-hand to benefit both medical professionals as well as patients.
Read more: 7 Major Impacts of Technology in Healthcare
What is Healthcare Information Technology (HIT)?
While information technology refers to the usage of computers and telecommunications and other systems to store, retrieve and share information, HIT, refers to the secure use of technology to manage health-related information.
The most common examples of healthcare information technology are e-prescriptions, electronic health records (EHRs), and other tech tools that help patients meet health goals such as managing blood sugar levels or quitting smoking. Information technology has paved the way for more accurate EHRs/ EMRs that help patients gain quick and easy access to various healthcare facilities. Additionally, it has given patients more control over their health through various mobile apps and information platforms.
Healthcare information technology’s primary purpose is to maintain privacy while improving patient care. HIT enables medical professionals to not only take better care of patients but also improve their communication with patients.
A few examples of Health IT are:
- Computerized disease registries
- Consumer health IT applications
- Electronic prescribing
- Electronic medical record systems such as EMRs, EHRs, and PHRs
What is the significance of healthcare information technology?
The goal of using information technology in healthcare is to enhance the overall health of the people by improving the quality of care provided to the patients.
Healthcare information technology is significant because it:
- Helps in delivering more accurate, actionable, and accessible information related to a patient’s health that can be customized to meet the individual’s needs.
- Allows better and faster decisions related to health risks that affect an individual as well as the public.
- Supports communication between patients and healthcare professionals and helps in decision-making.
- Helps build networks of social support for both patients as well as healthcare professionals.
- Improves awareness among patients as well as the general public about health-related matters that can lead to positive outcomes.
Uses of information technology in healthcare
Information technology is being used in numerous ways to improve patient safety, healthcare delivery, and communication between healthcare providers and patients. One of the most remarkable applications of HIT is patient records and data management.
Previously, paper charts were used to maintain patients’ records that were easily lost, misinterpreted, or damaged. IT has helped healthcare professionals track patient’s records easily and securely. A medical professional can add pharmacy records, X-rays, test results, and even vital signs to the virtual chart that is easy to read, share, and check against other records.
Also, an entirely new discipline known as nursing informatics has been formed by combining IT and clinical care. This discipline combines the practice of nursing with IT management and helping people with a passion for science and data in the service of medical patients and improving healthcare. With increased demand in technology, this field is gaining more popularity day by day.
According to a survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, it was found that nurses who use IT are more likely to spot medical errors. As less time is spent on documenting patient care, nurses can get more time to spend on patient care. Also, as more and more people are getting insured and seeking quality care, the demand for information technology that can help track patients’ records accurately and improve healthcare is only going to grow.
As the HIT field expands, it will create more jobs for IT professionals in hospital settings. From medical transcriptionists, medical coding specialists, clinical IT consultants, and healthcare system analysts, roles in the field of healthcare are growing every year. Apart from creating jobs, IT will stay relevant for hospital administrators and policymakers to increase their volume, speed, and quality of service in the care centers.
Read more: How digital tools are reshaping healthcare
4 future trends in healthcare to watch out for!
1. Telehealth will gain more popularity
As more and more doctors, specialists, and health systems are providing telehealth services, it will gain more prominence in near future. For example, a senior citizen recovering from post-acute care could avail of on-camera consultation without the need for traveling. Regardless of the user’s condition or age or familiarity with the concept, telehealth will gain wider adoption soon.
2. Virtual Reality (VR) will be widely used in patient care
- Virtual Reality can help memory care patients visit vacation spots, access street views of their childhood homes and parks virtually.
- VR is already helping surgeons visualize potential issues before complex surgeries. With more advancements in VR coming up, it could improve procedural intervention by overlaying imaging data and relevant information.
- Vivid imagery using VR is being used in hospitals to distract patients undergoing treatments or those experiencing discomfort.
- VR can be used to educate or explain treatment to a patient.
- VR can help people gain a new perspective on illness. For instance, VR headsets with special software can help people understand what it’s like for people with Alzheimer’s and build empathy.
3. Artificial Intelligence will improve diagnosis and other processes
AI tools such as chatbots and wearables are helping patients take better control of their own care. Artificial Intelligence is being used to maximize hospital efficiency, develop personalized drugs, create treatment protocols, to perform patient monitoring, and care administration. Using complex machine learning algorithms, AI helps emulate human intelligence in analyzing and comprehending complex medical data.
Leading healthcare institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and the UK’s NHS have developed their own AI algorithms to analyze vast amounts of healthcare information that can lead to far-reaching changes in the fields of disease prevention and early diagnosis.
4. 5G will boost network speeds
5G has the potential to significantly improve healthcare delivery by boosting network speed and capacity while reducing latency. This will be crucial for transmitting large medical images, supporting telehealth initiatives and remote patient monitoring tools, and facilitating the complex uses of AI, AR, and VR technologies. 5G technology will also facilitate faster downloads and communication on tablets and other mobile devices used in healthcare that allows the growth and adoption of mobility in healthcare.
How Fingent can help you
At Fingent, we offer healthcare information technology consulting that will help identify your organization’s specific needs and provide apt solutions for improving patient care delivery and enhancing the productivity of healthcare professionals. We also develop technology solutions for healthcare payer organizations and insurance carriers that help them make better decisions and improve their visibility in the competitive market.
We aim to deliver value through our healthcare application platforms and customize solutions according to your business objective. Contact us to know more about how your business can benefit from our healthcare IT consulting services.
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A list of 5 popular open-source ERPs that support healthcare equipment suppliers
The global healthcare expenditure is anticipated to rise at a CAGR of 5% till 2023. The healthcare industry can, therefore, look at a bright future. Medical equipment suppliers have to deal with various challenges. They have to ensure that all products comply with the regulatory guidelines, are of high quality, and are entirely traceable. Robust ERP systems can help medical equipment suppliers to gather insights from data to make quick decisions. Let’s take a look at some of the open-source ERP systems out there that are suitable for SMEs.
1. Odoo ERP
Odoo is an open-source ERP platform that allows ease of deployment. This is specifically helpful for SMEs that do not have dedicated IT infrastructure. The flexibility helps integration of different business processes and systems. Odoo for medical equipment suppliers is a comprehensive ERP solution that helps manage financials and operations with ease.
The core modules of Odoo like Accounting, Project Management, and Inventory Management make it suitable for medical equipment suppliers. Developers can create custom third-party apps to meet the specific needs of a medical equipment supplier. Odoo offers more than 10,000 apps to meet most business needs. Fingent is an official partner of Odoo with years of experience in implementing, customizing, and providing consultation for clients. As an Odoo development company, Fingent has catered to the needs of various customers and streamlined their operations. Our motto of increasing efficiency and ease-of-use has made us a popular choice among various organizations for Odoo implementation requirements.
ERPNext is a contemporary ERP solution that allows you to focus on delivering medical equipment of high-quality by effortlessly managing your supply chains. It enables you to intelligently track orders, monitor stock levels, implement promotions, and minimize errors in inventory sourcing. You can leverage the numerous built-in integrations offered by ERPNext and start supplying in no time. With ERPNext, you can have real-time updates on the movement of equipment, control equipment transfers within different warehouses, and generate required reports quickly and easily. You can also create your customized software on-the-fly without any code.
Medical equipment suppliers have to deal with difficult delivery timelines, complicated pricing arrangements, unique inventory, oversee seller agreements, and concessions. Epicor ERP solution enables you to carry out all your operations with ease. The Epicor Prophet 21 ERP is specifically designed for supply and distribution. This user-friendly ERP system can help suppliers maximize profits and scale without limits. Epicor allows you to integrate all your business applications with RESTful API. You can also automatically manage your warehouses with Epicor Prophet 21. This helps in the smooth running of all processes in your warehouse. This, in turn, improves precision enabling you to provide better services to your customers.
Epicor Commerce Connect helps you to create and maintain an online presence which is the need of the hour. The increased visibility across the supply chain helps medical equipment suppliers even forecast demand.
4. Microsoft Dynamics 365
Microsoft Dynamics 365 combines the best practices of Microsoft’s ERP, CRM, and BI solutions into a single product that is cloud-based. These features enable the system to scale and grow along with your business. Capabilities like Material Resource Planning and Vendor Self-Service Help minimize vendor lead times and inventory carrying costs. The fully automated warehouse management system (WMS) helps optimize your warehouse space, labor, and resources.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 gives medical device suppliers full visibility across the entire supply chain and the ability to track information and job at all touchpoints. This helps improve efficiency, reduce expenses, and promote smooth communication within different segments of the medical device industry supply chain. As a medical device supplier, you need to understand who has purchased the device from you and whether it has come back for service. You have to take information from different systems and combine those to give meaningful reporting. You also may have to rework your inventory according to changes in regulations. Microsoft Dynamics 365 allows you to be unique in the medical device industry because that’s what gives you the edge.
Read more: ERP E-commerce
5. Oracle NetSuite
Oracle Netsuite is proven to be a very mature SaaS solution that brings in next-level integration and seamless nature to the table. Though NetSuite is ideal for SMEs who can leverage the relatively low-cost entry point, many enterprise-level companies are also considering Netsuite due to the scalability that it provides. Oracle NetSuite helps medical device suppliers to react to the diverse market and deal with different customer bases and different routes-to-market. NetSuite helps you reduce indirect costs and get through the maze of the regulatory framework by allowing modifications and customizations. You get one central source of information that helps simplify the complexities of the medical device business. The flexibility that Oracle NetSuite offers, helps the medical equipment industry to adapt to the changes in customer demand and provide them with what they want and when they want.
Analyses of the medical equipment supplies and distribution industry show that companies that have demonstrated the ability to leverage cloud computing and ERP have increased their profitability and revenue. This was achieved as a result of seamless integration of all business processes which enabled real-time financial and operational visibility, better cost management structures, improved forecasting and revenue tracking, and the ability to access data from anywhere.
A large number of medical equipment suppliers usually are small to medium-sized businesses, where the one-off system automation model proves to be inefficient. Cloud-based ERP systems eliminates the old standalone computer systems and replaces them with a single, unified software program. Thus, someone in Finance can easily look into the Warehouse software to check if an order is shipped. ERP cloud computing can help you see exactly where your business is, at any second of the day. You can see how much revenue you’ve earned for the day, how much inventory you have, how you are trending over previous days, months, and years.
Read more: A 3 day Odoo CRM implementation story!
Cloud-based ERP systems becoming the rage for medical equipment suppliers, it’s high time that you too invest in one, if not done already. Fingent helps you leverage the benefits of the open-source ERP systems mentioned above by understanding your unique business requirements. Because we know that this uniqueness is what gives you that competitive edge. Contact us to know more about how your business can benefit from ERP integration.
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Paperwork is the bane of most enterprises seeking productivity and efficiency improvements, to reduce their operational costs and become more competitive. While a certain amount of paperwork remains inevitable owing to statutory regulations and the need to preserve important documents in a physical format, the spread of internet gave a big push to electronic records and workflows, reducing paperwork drastically. Now, the advent of mobility has propelled a second wave of the “paperwork revolution,” where intuitive mobile apps eliminate the conventional work processes that create paperwork in the first place.
Mobility contributes to a lean and agile enterprise, where wasteful paperwork is eliminated. Manual processes are time-consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone. The digital capture of information, through smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices generate both direct and spin- off benefits. The elimination of manual processes accelerates the pace of work and improves accuracy. When smartphones capture the information automatically, in audio or video form, perform the required calculations or processing automatically in the backend, and transmits the required information to the relevant stakeholder, in the correct format, there is no scope for errors or even perceptive biases creeping in. The indirect benefit includes better sales and ROI, improved customer satisfaction, and better employee morale.
The effectiveness of mobility in reducing paperwork may be best understood by delving into two key areas where mobility has already succeeded in eliminating paperwork – field based operations and healthcare.
Mobility in Fieldwork
The development of mobile apps have transformed field service operations, be it servicing and repair of machinery, compliance visits, marketing calls, or anything else. Intuitive mobile apps keep track of field employee movements, keep all stakeholders updated in real time, render transparency to each step of the process, auto-generate and auto-populate the required form, transmit the required forms to the relevant authorities, all automatically. The net result is vastly reduced, or even total elimination of manual paperwork.
Process automation and technician self-service eliminate many clerical roles by eliminating the associated paperwork. For instance, when field service staff makes recordings on mobile apps during service calls, the information transmits seamlessly and automatically without the need to decipher handwritten documentation and enter them into appropriate systems manually, at a later stage.
At the ground level, mobility has successfully eliminated paperwork in most field service operations, as evident from the fact only 22% of best-in-class enterprises continue to use paper-based processes in their field service operations.
Mobile Apps for Physicians and Healthcare Operations
The drag paperwork causes are much underestimated. For instance, paperwork takes up as much as a third of a physician’s workday, the time can be better spent on treating more patients or indulging in some other professional or creative pursuits. In many places, physicians are required to do daily rounds and note down individual details of patients on paper. Many physicians, hard pressed for time, skip key processes, leading to incomplete billing and the hospital losing millions in revenue, over time.
Mobility solutions enable physicians and other employees capture information digitally through their smartphones, doing away with record writing and paper-based forms, and thereby eliminating administrative and procedural drags. Mobility solutions auto-populates forms, and does all the calculations and processing in the backend, reducing paperwork drastically. Healthcare stakeholders gain freedom from the piles of charts, billing forms, and various other procedural rigmaroles multiple health insurance companies impose on a daily basis.
Empirical evidence suggests a big boost for efficiency and hospital revenues increasing by about 20%, on the introduction of mobility apps that aid and automates routine tasks.
Storing customer or patient records electronically in the cloud, accessible through mobile apps on a need basis reduces the cost of maintaining physical records, the cost to store such records, and the hassles involved in safeguarding such records. Such apps communicate with hospital servers, read all relevant information such as patient history, billing, and insurance from the organization’s database, and convey such data to caregivers at the time of consultation, all automatically, and without a shred of paper involved in the process.
Mobility solutions also do away with the delay and inconvenience when such records are required at a different location from where it is stored. Reporting and administrative workloads get lighter across the board, allowing employees to spend more time and focus their energies on their core competencies. Improved accuracies lead to better ROI as the revenue related documentation does not slip through the cracks, and improved customer satisfaction as there is no ambiguity and all interaction are recorded accurately.
Mobility in a Run of the Mill Enterprise
Paperwork, combined with manual processes are the number one reason for errors and inefficiencies and contribute to wasteful overheads in a big way. The development of highly intuitive mobile apps eliminates paperwork in a big way. However, success depends on developing apps that serve the purpose well, understand the underlying business process, and developing apps that offer relevant solutions that are an improvement on the present situation.
Very often, paperwork gives rise to more paperwork. The need to buy paper, for instance, to send letters would create a new paper-based requisition form and invoices. When the required information is simply captured digitally and sends an email or text message, it is not just the actual process where the paperwork is eliminated, but the entire work chain is eliminated.
Many businesses start with a good intent but inevitably fall back to manual or paper ridden processes. This is owing to lack of key integrations that facilitate a seamless customer journey through the electronic channel. Effective mapping of the user journey to understand the interactions and touchpoints between users and business process goes a long way in preempting paperwork and manual processes.
Mobility helps to reduce paperwork and bring to the table several benefits, but only if the mobile systems are designed right and implemented well. For best results, rope in a strategic partner who is strong in delivering cutting edge mobile apps that serve the desired purpose.
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Healthcare professionals, without a doubt, need some of the most sophisticated and specialized technologies for their trade. Considering the importance of even minutes or seconds in such a profession, getting quick access to patient records, disease or condition related information and the like, can help a great deal in saving valuable time. Be it mobile devices and applications, or regular devices like the stethoscope and pressure testing cuffs, it should have features that address the unique needs of healthcare professionals.
Here are some features that can be included in a healthcare application or device, that can make work for healthcare professionals much easier:
A lot of healthcare professionals these days have moved to Electronic Medical Records (EMR), which has increased the demand for security. There is a need to incorporate high-end security features to protect valuable patient data, in the event of such sharing of resources through dashboards and the cloud. Here are some popular and useful features that can be made to be a part of healthcare devices:
– full disc encryption
– a certified smart card reader
– a trusted platform module
These help in protecting both the organization’s as well as the patient’s data, while at the same time providing anytime, anywhere access to important information.
A number of hardware features like, audio capture capabilities, with noise cancellation to support leading edge voice-recognition software, can be very useful for healthcare professionals in taking notes even when their hands are full. A built-in barcode reader can help in quick, effective and positive patient-to-patient medication information matching. These features allow health practitioners to be more effective in terms of treatment and care. To a large extent these features also allow health professionals to be more proactive in their approach towards patients as well. Often, patients’ questions and issues can be addressed even before they arise, thanks to such smart features.
Here, efficiencies are achieved in terms of day-to-day activities as well as on an overall basis. Together, they contribute towards more optimized work flows, more savings in time and money, and thus, more personal and focused attention to patients.
Considering the in-hospital environment and the various scenarios that the health professionals may go through, there are certain external device features that may come in useful. Apart from the basic requirements of being handy and lightweight, there is a need for health devices used by clinicians to be sturdy and robust. Devices that pass the standard MIL-STD Drop testing might be most appropriate.
Dust and water resistance properties (as per IP 54 ) for their devices can also prove to be useful for the doctors. Antimicrobial coating on the device protects the device from obvious infections as the doctor treats different patients. They will also have to be cleaned with several sanitizing solutions for the best of all users.
Above all these, healthcare professionals need constant and seamless communication among their colleagues as well as among various departments. They need systems that encompass various locations, from in-patient units to out-patient units to operation theaters to labs. They also need different means of communication in their tools, like video calls, emails, text and multimedia messages and the like.
Healthcare devices and tools used by professionals can become one of the main contributors of effective care in organizations if they have the right features. Hardware and software features are both important factors affecting the efficiency of a device or application. Once the right set of features are incorporated, they have to be constantly evaluated and validated, to ensure that only the best development practices and standards are adhered to, so as to maintain a fundamental level of quality and safety, and also to keep the system updated.
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The healthcare industry is already half way through a huge transition, leading to more effective and efficient healthcare practices. I’m talking about Electronic Health Records (EHR), the much-needed change that healthcare organizations were looking for, at one point of time. As with any technology, they needed some time for the people to get adapted to it.
Now, a few years into its introduction, there are still mixed reviews regarding its benefits. According to an EHR user satisfaction survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), only about half of the respondents were satisfied with their EHR systems on the whole. The survey also showed that many EHR providers had scope for improvements along with some of the main features that doctors found most useful.
So how can you make sure that the healthcare system you are planning to adopt will provide the required results? How can you make sure that you don’t end up being a dissatisfied healthcare application user?
Here are 5 essential elements that you need to consider while looking for an effective healthcare application:
- Customization – An effective healthcare application should be capable of being customized to the specific needs of an organization or a physician’s practice. Only then can it help in improving patient care, without creating even more work for you and your employees. An off-the-shelf healthcare system may need extra modifications from your side in order to be effective. According to the AAFP survey, 78% of the users were satisfied with the customization capabilities of their EHR systems. Hence, it is one of the most important factors to look for in any good healthcare application.
- Integration – This is an extension of the customization factor because, with customization you can make sure that your healthcare application is well integrated into the organization or practice workflow, the accounting and revenue management functions. A fully integrated system can streamline the entire process of health care right from scheduling appointments to processing payments and checkout. As all the processes get automated, it becomes much easier for your employees to keep track of patients, allowing them to concentrate on patient care.
- Software support – According to the AAFP survey, only 39% of the respondents were satisfied with the support and training they received from the EHR vendors, which shows how important customer service is to users. A majority of them were least satisfied with the software support. This means that customer service and support makes a huge difference in the overall satisfaction level of the software users, and as a healthcare practitioner, wouldn’t you want software support to be at your constant beck and call in case you need help?
- Connectivity – The survey showed that about 70% of the respondents found the e-prescribing and electronic messaging functionalities of their current healthcare system as most beneficial and satisfying. These are two functions that play important roles in improving the speed and quality of care delivered to the patients, thereby improving patient satisfaction. Such capabilities and link ups with pharmacies can help decrease the number of patients who are reluctant to fill out prescription forms to get their medicines and bring up the effectiveness in patient care. Hence, you need to make sure that you have enough connections to make treatment easier for your patients in every possible way.
- Quick implementation – The implementation and training process of your healthcare application should be quite quick, so that they don’t cause disruptions in your work and practice. Cloud-based systems can actually help you save on the high costs as well as the IT efforts of installation. It should also be easy to use as you need to finish off your staff training quickly and efficiently.
These basic factors can help you find the right healthcare solution for your organization’s needs and it can be a start to improving patient satisfaction and quality of care, today, as well as in the long run.
Looking for the perfect solution to improve patient care in your organization? Our healthcare application experts can help.