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HIT and the IoHT are the catalysts for change within the healthcare space. Connected care is enabling hospitals to automate workflows and processes that were never possible before. In this article, we will discuss what HIT and IoHT are as well as their benefits and challenges.

Health Information Technology and the Internet of Healthcare Things – What is it?

What is Health Information Technology (HIT)? HealthIT.gov defines it as “a broad concept that encompasses an array of technologies to store, share, and analyze health information.” In Fact, HIT plays an important role in the care we provide to our patients as well as improve patient safety. It has proven year-in and year-out that the benefits are substantial. For example, a Congressional Budget Office study estimated that EHRs could reduce prescribing errors by up to 95 percent. Additionally, the migration from paper charts to EHR (electronic health records) has substantially reduced the time of searching for patient records, copying and faxing records to other providers, phone calls from one provider to another to discuss findings when a patient is in an emergency situation and much more. Everything we need to know about that patient is at the tips of our fingers and can be shared electronically with other providers or facilities in an instant.

The Internet of Healthcare Things or IoHT is here and is playing a vital role in HIT. As medical devices and monitoring tools become more connected, so will the staff, patients and their family members. Error prevention and time savings are only part of the benefits of HIT and the IoHT. Safety and alerts are also managed within the IoHT.

For example, use of the EHR has increased the speed in which a patient receives emergency care in a crisis situation. Providers no longer need to wait on records from another provider or test results to be faxed in order to make a decision on treatment. Many local physician offices have special access to the hospital database and vice-versa. The EHR gives a comprehensive picture of the care in which a patient has received.

Additionally, the EHR is designed to alert us to potential hazards in regards to the treatment our patients receive. The EHR will alert us to dangerous medication interactions, allergies to medications as well as alerting the pharmacist to potential hazards if the insurance company refuses payment on the prescribed medication.

Humans Get In Their Own Way

There is no doubt that the integration of the EHR and other HIT systems have improved patient safety. However, it is important that we have realistic expectations of what these systems can and cannot provide. Whether we are using paper charts or electronic records, we are always faced with user errors. No matter how well designed or how many safeguards are built into our EHR, the human-factor will continue to be the biggest culprit of documentation errors in the patient record whether it be that the information is entered wrong or if the proper staff fail to consult with the recorded information before making a decision.

With that said, it is important that an approach providing as many automated fail-safes as possible is made available. As is the case within HIT, no single solution provider has everything needed to make this a reality. That is why it is the critical job of the architects for the HIT systems to make sure that networks are in place to answer all of the safety and clinical issues faced by clinical teams each and every day.

Other Barriers Of Use That Plague HIT

With that said, a large barrier to use within HIT is interoperability with other systems. When choosing an EHR for example, it is important to first see how it integrates with your PM (practice management) system, instruments and the EHR of other facilities. One practice had to switch PM systems after 9 years, which was a HUGE undertaking.

As the EHR continued to grow and change with the times, the PM system stayed the same. This created double work for the staff, raising costs due to the amount of staff members that were needed to manually enter information that should have been able to be pulled electronically as well as creating more work due to poor reporting because the systems were not able to share important data for accurate reports. Troublesome indeed! However, when solutions are provided that have relationships to other complementary offerings, you can be sure that scalability will not be a hindrance.

The MIPS Government Mandate

Along with the use of EHR comes the government mandated “meaningful use” also known as MIPS. To understand what meaningful use is, we can think of it as a gym membership. You can purchase a membership to the gym but if you don’t go in and move around, you will get nothing in return. In the same respect, you can purchase the EHR, but it will serve you no purpose unless you use it meaningfully. If you meet or exceed the expectations established by CMS you will benefit financially. This can come in two ways.


1.  No penalty for lack of EHR use.
2.  Receiving payment incentives for using it as recommended.

When the CMS standards are applied as intended, the HIT initiatives fall in place and benefit the entire organization aside from financial perks. How so?

HIT Fosters Better Patient Communication And Patient Experience

HIT provides communication improvements with our patients. Patients are in control of their healthcare now more than ever. With HIT patients can review their charts, request medication refills, make appointments and contact the doctor by simply logging in to their patient portal. Patients are able to review their information, request more information on diagnosis, and correct errors in their record. They can see their most critical information on electronic patient room whiteboards in front of them, always up-to-date and completely filled out.

Conclusion

The world we live in is ever changing and ever advancing. Our healthcare system is no exception. We need to progress with it. Our patients are counting on us to provide them with the best care available. Our patients are relying on us. So what HIT systems are you going to choose?

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