Healthcare is no stranger to difficulties when it comes to staying up to date with technological advances. The Beacon Community Health Care Programs have actively been working at combating issues due to a lack of technology by educating communities on the importance of Health Information Technology(HIT). Their goal as a program is to generate a network designed for patients and providers to collaborate in a quick, accurate, and reliable format (Beacon Community Program, 2019). This improves the quality of care and access to care because patients are able to communicate vital health information through an electronic platform designed for widespread dispersal. Through the use of EHR systems access to medications, allergies and past medical history are possible in seconds. In return, this allows patients to spend less time in hospitals, and providers with better tools to best take care of their patients.
The work that Beacon Community has done could absolutely be replicated in my community, however, I think it is important to acknowledge that change is oftentimes hard for large organizations. The Beacon Community offers important resources such as their time, money, and education on the utilization of HIT. Without access to those resources, implementation would be hard. By providing organizations with the tools to be successful and guidance throughout the transition, I can see the implementation of HIT becoming widespread and well adopted.
In order to implement HIT in a similar fashion to the Beacon Community, I would start with educating the leaders of the organization including management and providers on systems that could be adapted to promote ease of transition specifically focusing on an effective EHR system. I would then encourage hiring a Patient Care Coordinator position that meets with patients both virtually and in person to guide patients on how to use patient portals and update and access their health records to the current format, specific to their preferred language. I would then offer support to all staff and patients by providing access to the internet and devices that allow them to properly use the HIT that has been provided to them.
It is extremely important to gather, utilize and understand healthcare data both big and small to understand where aspects of care can be improved, and what is currently working well. Data in the form of statistics can provide leaders of health systems a snapshot of their organization’s performance (Wager, 2017). An example of a statistic that is important to analyze is census statistics which show data such as occupancy rates. In the current Covid-19 climate, knowing how many available beds is an extremely important piece of data that can determine whether someone lives or dies. Knowing this data allows organizations to effectively take care of their patients. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the quality of the data is accurate. If you know how many available beds your organization has left for patients in the ICU but it is incorrect and undercalculated, then the data is of no use. If you have to turn away patients in need of a bed because there aren’t enough, then the quality of the program is compromised. Using data from HIT harmoniously requires having quality data in order to be effective.
For the past two decades, “the use of health information technology (HIT) across all aspects of the US healthcare delivery system has been increasing” (Wager, Lee, and Glaser, 2017, p. 4). They are utilizing the concept of electronic health records (EHR) to improve quality care and access to care in their region. One instance in the San Diego Beacon Community in California, their main goal and focus is to “expand electronic health information exchange to enable providers to improve medical care decisions and overall care quality, to empower patients to engage in their own health management, and to reduce unnecessary and redundant testing” (Beacon Community, 2019, Table 1, Row 12). With the use of EHR, San Diego providers will be able to provide better care and allow patients to interact and help make decisions regarding their own health. Along with this community, there are 16 other ones that have similar goals using HIT and EHR.
I do feel that the programs and goals can be replicated in my community and workplace. In my workplace, the use of HIT and EHR has allowed for easier access to doctor and procedure appointments, increased efficiency to patient records, orders, and documents, and overall better quality care to the Northwest Chicago suburb communities. The use of a myChart application has empowered patients to manage and make decisions regarding the tests and procedures that they need and keep track of their records from their very own personal phone or device. Finally, HIT has allowed for insurance verification and registration processes to go more smoothly and rapidly so patients can get the quality care they need as fast as possible. For those who are not as familiar with technology, the myChart application and HIT gives patients, in my communities, the ability to receive reminders regarding appointment times and notifications when test results are known. The community I work in is very diverse and the use of HIT and EHR can definitely be replicated and utilized in not only my own community, but in other developing ones as well.
In order to replicate these programs and use of HIT, I would hold free informationals to educate patients and employees on the updates of technology use, for instance the myChart application. Similar to the San Diego community, reducing unnecessary testing can help patients save on healthcare costs. Using HIT, testing can be tracked so providers and patients are aware when testing will be needed again and estimates can be given about tests that patients are receiving. Implementing a goal similar to San Diego’s can be replicated so that medical care decisions will improve and patients can help engage in their own health management.
Wager, et al. (2017) explain the importance of healthcare data and the quality of that data in developing healthcare programs by emphasizing the issues with poor quality data and methods to maintain and improve data quality. Poor data can lead to poor communication between providers and patients, documentation issues, and overall poor patient care. For instance, if an order by a physician is not processed correctly in the HIT systems, a wrong test can be ordered or incorrect diagnoses can be inputted. When and if this occurs, patients will lose trust in those companies and providers and can potentially see a delay in care. Quality and credible data is essential for developing effective programs. Additionally, companies need to develop programs that provide accurate and timely medical records and documentations and to improve data quality, companies and managers need to develop protocols to collect data, train employees appropriately, and perform checks and audits to detect any errors and correct them. Nonetheless, humans make mistakes, but the important thing is to ensure the same mistakes will not happen again, especially with healthcare data and quality. It is critical that these concepts are concise and accurate so proper care can be given to each patient.