Role of IT in patient safety: Maximum care for patients
The healthcare sector over the years has evolved due to the advent of IT solutions. Today, various applications and monitoring systems are used in hospitals to ensure patient safety. We discuss the emerging role and importance of IT in patient safety.
A decade ago IT in healthcare was used majorly for diagnostics but today it is used in every possible vertical – from diagnostics, data storage to maintaining medical records. Hence, the role of IT has increased and so has its importance. “Today, the devices that are used for diagnostics have increased than what were used a decade back. This has only been possible due to IT,” says Dr KV Krishnan, Practice Head – Life Sciences, Mindteck.
In recent years, IT in healthcare has been providing cutting-edge technology and has brought in innovations for providing maximum care to patients in both administrative and clinical areas. “New technology developed on various platforms like dot net, java and other open sources which run through Internet with web based-Electronic Medical Records (EMR) where any doctor can use applications to provide error-free medical care, Computerised Physician Order Entry (CPOE) and disease management. EMR technology will lead to paper abandoned environment. The latest product inventions such as mini ultrasound for arthritis, fertility treatment, etc help in the treatment of the patient but not in terms of Hospital Information System (HIS) services,” informs Sadananda Reddy, MD and CEO, Goldstar Healthcare Pvt Ltd.
Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS), and the latest development in Digital Imaging and Communication (DICOM) standards, which is commonly used for the transfer and storage of medical images, such technologies can be interfaced with the HIS software to access the demographic details stored in HIS with electronically stored images.
Today, there are various independent products available for healthcare professionals in the market, which work out individually and needs to be integrated. For instance, HMIS solutions that can be accessed through Internet provide comprehensive solution to care providers. HMIS solutions are compatible with international standards developed by various accreditation bodies in different parts of the world. User friendly environment make the employees fully satisfied with the solution and ultimately provides patient satisfaction.
Today, IT has made a huge impact in the overall healthcare industry but the major areas that have benefitted with IT include:
- Patient clinical support area
- Patient discharge
- Billing process
- Material management
- Management Information System (MIS)
- Financial Information System (FIS)
All IT applications are designed in a way that they impact the patient right from the time he/she walks in a hospital till the time he/she gets well and gets discharged. At every stage applications are used to provide safety to the patient. For example, patients consulting a doctor will have to be registered, and a barcode label is generated. This label is used at every stage to identify the demographic details, and this can prevent human errors.
During consultation physician uses CPOE to order investigations. Radiology images saved will be correlated with demographic details and records will be saved as PACS records. To collect the sample from different areas automated dispensing machines are used to dispense sample to concern area. “Interoperability is the property of a product or system whose interfaces are completely understood to work with other products or systems present or future without any restricted access or implementation,” informs Reddy.
Currently, use of IT solutions is majorly confined to metros, tier I and II cities and has not yet made way into the rural parts of India. “Today, majority of the rural population go to the nearest cities for primary, secondary and tertiary treatments and for super specialty treatment patients go to the nearest metros,” informs Reddy. Adding to this he says, “The concept of telemedicine has just evolved with the support of a few corporate hospitals in the rural areas.”
Even today a number of healthcare providers do not have the facility of HIS. NABH accreditation has made mandatory to implement HIS solutions in hospital setups. Usually most of the implementations are client based and are not integrated modules so that the data cannot be translated into other module. Integration of the modules can be done but it also involves cost. Finance-related data is usually captured in the system and rest is just captured manually on papers. There are more chances of human errors, medication errors and other safety concern issues. “Few care providers are interested in having the advanced version of HIS but they cannot afford the cost. Inadequate HIS solutions will have impact on patient care such as late billing process, dragged discharge process, no uniform bill, erroneous reports, etc. Hence, it is important that IT is not just restricted to metros but is used throughout the country to ensure patient safety,” says Reddy.
What is next?
There is immense potential in this sector as healthcare providers have to implement decent HIS solutions to store and retrieve the data as per the NABH guidelines to get accreditation. As technology develops many companies have emerged for offering HIS solutions. “We are definitely on the right track; there will once come a time where all doctors would be able to treat patients sitting far away from the hospitals. With the help of telemedicine and new IT applications, any doctor would be able to access any information or report on their phones and other gadgets. But it is also important for us to educate the patients on the latest technology available to ensure they are getting the benefit as well,” signs off Dr Krishnan.
By Jasleen Kaur Batra (email@example.com)