The usage of Health Information Technology (HIT) has started back in the middle of the 20th century, and the goals of HIT did not change much since then. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (n.d.), HIT “refers to the electronic systems health care professionals and patients use to store, share, and analyze health information” (p. 1). HIT has been used to ease and speed up various medical procedures, and therefore increase the quality of medical care overall.
One of the more specific outcomes of the usage of HIT today is improved patient safety. According to Alotaibi and Federico (2017), “there is substantial evidence that implementing an electronic medical record reduces medical errors and improves patient’s safety” (p. 1177). This is especially true for clinical decision support systems (CDS), computerized physician order entries (COPE), automated medication dispensing systems (ADC), and patient data management systems (PDMS). PDMS, COPE and ADC mainly help decrease the likelihood of medical errors due to automatization of processes and reduction in the reliance on human judgment, as it may be faulty. At the same time, CDS makes the treatment process more stable overall, as it ensures compliance with the recommendations and norms of the treatment.
HIT adoption is also beneficial for medical outcomes overall, especially in terms of efficiency and effectiveness of medical treatment. Kruse and Beane (2018) demonstrated the presence of a positive association between HIT implementation and medical outcomes, with no results implying negative impacts associated with HIT usage. This supports the conclusions about the benefits of HIT; moreover, the absence of adverse effects in contrast to previous studies of HIT impacts may suggest the further improvements of technology and reduction of risks.
Regarding the provision of nursing homes with modern Health Information Technology (HIT), it is true that the implementation of clinical information systems (CIS) has been challenging globally. According to Nazare et al. (2013), there are eight interdependent dimensions regarding CIS implementation and its usage. These include “hardware and software computing infrastructure; clinical content; human-computer interface; people; workflow and communication; internal organizational policies, procedures, and culture; external rules, regulations, and pressures; system measurement and monitoring” (Nazare et al., p. 39). CIS’s successful implementation implies overcoming various challenges within all of the presented dimensions, including massive infrastructure updates, staff training courses, and policy updates. The complexity and interdependence of challenges lead to an unwillingness to transfer to CIS, therefore dramatically slowing the process for nursing facilities.
However, the situation has actually been improving in recent years. For instance, according to Vest et al. (2019), “84% of US nursing facilities reported using electronic health records (EHR)” (p. 995) in their everyday practice. Partially, this has been achieved due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (2009), which provided $25.9 billion to implement HIT in healthcare facilities across the country broadly. Nevertheless, the external financial incentives alone are not enough, and the implementation of HIT involves complex work within an organization as well, as demonstrated earlier with CIS. The research findings by Vest et al. (2019) also suggest that innovative culture within a company is a critical factor contributing to HIT implementation success. This is supported by the fact that companies perceived as innovative had six times the chances to have HIT implemented and used. Therefore, as HIT plays an immense role in maintaining a high quality of service, it is necessary to push the changes both economically and culturally.
Alotaibi, Y. K., & Federico, F. (2017). The impact of health information technology on patient safety. Saudi medical journal, 38(12), 1173–1180. Web.
Kruse, C., & Beane, A. (2018). Health information technology continues to show positive effect on medical outcomes: Systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(2). Web.
Nazare, S., Or, C., Li, K., & Xu, J. (2013). What makes the implementation of clinical information systems difficult in nursing homes?: A qualitative case study. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care, 2(1), 38–42. Web.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. (n.d.). Health IT: Advancing America’s health care. Web.
Vest, J.R., Jung, H., Wiley, K., Kooreman, H., Pettit, L., & Unruh M.A. (2019). Adoption of health information technology among US nursing facilities. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 20(8), 995-1000. Web.