Real-time Information Technology in Healthcare

I.T. In HealthcareOrganizations worldwide have placed a huge bet on the use of technology by spending over $40 billion annually on IT programs.  In 2014, clinical healthcare IT spending alone reached $15.6 billion. Federal healthcare IT spending is predicted to exceed $4.8 billion in 2019.  Examples of major expenditures in these areas include the upgrading of the Department of Defense’s electronic health record (EHR) management system, which is predicted to cost about $11 billion and the recently announced decision by the Veteran’s Administration to join the effort, which will likely cost a comparable amount.  Further evidence of the spend on healthcare IT are the investments in the telecare space, which now represent 23% of the healthcare market spend. 

But what are the keys to making the most of a healthcare information technology investment? A recent survey conducted by McKinsey & Co. and the MIT Center for Digital Business found that companies who had the data they needed and used it to make informed decisions—instead of relying more on intuition and expertise—had the highest productivity and profitability.

Despite research supporting the benefits related to the use of healthcare information technology, we still have a room for improvement.  The latest data from the DHHS Office of the National Coordinator reveals that 9 of 10 physician offices (87%) use an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system but only 3 of 4 (78%) have “certified” their system.

To drive efficiency and effectiveness in healthcare, we must move the “sharing” of healthcare information from the file room to the hands of those delivering care, real-time. The benefits of healthcare information systems that are properly deployed and used has been well documented and how the sharing of healthcare information benefits individual patients as well as society as a whole. Today, information technology in healthcare must operate on a “real-time” basis rather than in analyzing what happened yesterday, last week, last month, or last quarter—so that providers can make more immediate interventions in the care provided to individuals in all settings—in  the hospital, at the clinic or at home.

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