Do you Really Need Health IT for your Practice? Take the Quiz!

health-it quiz

Time and again, the implementation of Information Technology (IT) systems in several industries have been known to increase efficiency, quality and cost-effectiveness. The same principles apply for the US healthcare industry too. However, most healthcare providers are slow in implementing IT systems due to high costs, lack of technical know-how/system usability, or due to the apprehension of overall management along with the organizational and cultural change it may bring.

Healthcare IT (HIT) systems such as Personal Health Records, Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or Computerized Physician Order Entry Systems enhance co-ordination between doctors and patients, augment sharing of information, ensure compliance, manage and prevent diseases, along with added superior performance. Further, HIT systems reduce medical errors, reorganize processes, reduce duplication, and improve medical decisions with respect to diagnosis. Hence, it has been advised to invest in IT to achieve promising results of improved quality, higher revenues, safety, and well being of medical care. A cost-benefit analysis demonstrated the following results:

Safety and savings: Computerized reminder system (via SMS) revealed better medication safety and timings along with providing the physician with the knowledge of any adverse reactions of the medication on the patient.

Quality: In complex conditions, quality of care improved with co-ordination and communication. Use of software such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and diagnostic images ensured accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Health benefits: With electronic health records systems, the physician was aware of the patients’ vaccinations and screenings. It also indicated if the person requires further tests, drugs or any other potential problems along with a display of results.

Though there is a one-time cost for implementation (e.g. EHR-$15,000 to $70,000 per provider), of hardware and training, along with a regular maintenance cost, the benefits of improved financial health are far too superior to avoid the implementation.

Take a quiz to find out if your Health IT cost is soaring high up or is benefiting your practice (answer as per your views for the last twelve months):

1. How important do you think are the following functionalities? Rate from 1 to 5 with 5 being the best:

a. Electronic Health Records (EHR) Technology

b. Exchange of Health Records

c. Electronic prescribing

d. Usability and knowledge of EHR

e. Records on paper

2. How meaningful do you think are the following patient/process outcomes with respect to the following aspects? Rate from 1 to 5 with 5 being the best:

a. Safety of using medicines

b. Safety of Patients

c. Care and synchronization

d. Management of chronic diseases

e. Healthcare delivery effectiveness

3. Was IT helpful in gaining access to previous medical records of the patient paving the way to better diagnosis and treatment?

a. No

b. Yes, Somewhat

c. Yes, Definitely

4. Did access to information make it easier to communicate (visit, phone, email) with the patient?

a. No

b. Yes, Somewhat

c. Yes, Definitely

5. Was it easy to follow up on email if the patient approached with any doubts on drugs and tests?

a. No

b. Yes, Somewhat

c. Yes, Definitely

6. Did the patients seem satisfied with the information of tests and results they found on your website?

a. No

b. Yes, Somewhat

c. Yes, Definitely

7. Did the patients find all the information they required about scheduling an appointment or being able to access any other information on your website easily?

a. Never

b. Usually

c. Always

8. Have the costs of implementation of IT systems been a hindrance to your service than being a boon?

a. Yes

b. Not sure

c. No

9. Have the patients found Eprescribing (online prescription of updated medicines) and VisitNotes (after visit summary) easy to understand?

a. Never

b. Usually

c. Always

10. According to your experience, should the government make it mandatory to install IT systems?

a. No

b. Not sure

c. Yes

If your answers are mostly ‘a’ then you are probably not inclined yet to implement and install technologies related to medical sciences.

If your answers are mostly ‘b’ then you can look towards implementing technology that will benefit patients in some of the medical fields. For e.g. EHR technology, physician order entry systems, and angioplasty (stent) in cardiovascular surgeries etc. These will also increase revenues in the long run.

If your answers are mostly ‘c’ then high-end technology is possibly better for your healthcare services. Along with EHR technology and other computerized systems, advanced technology can be implemented in your hospital, and exercised especially for aggressive and surgical treatments. For e.g. Usage of MRI machines, spinal fusion for back trouble, or proton-beam accelerators for curing prostate cancer though require a huge investment, can boost your revenues sooner or later.

Healthcare efficiencies and cost savings move collectively. As low cost alternatives are being replaced with high cost services, the initial costs of implementing IT in healthcare increase between 38%-65% in the overall healthcare expenditure.

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