Digitalize Hospitals

One study on 4,000 hospitals in the U.S. indicates that the cost of installing and running the hospital IT systems is greater than the expected cost savings. In fact, many hospitals spend lots of money, estimated up to $25 million dollars, to build one computing system. However, this computing system proves to be inefficient because the administrative costs eventually increase. That is not to mention the costs of the data transitioning progress from paper-based records to electronic records. Besides, this system is very time-consuming for many health care workers since they are the one to input data of their patients.

As the results, hospital computing did not enhance the quality of care and reduce overall administrative costs as it is supposed to do. People assumed that if the system comes to work, it will save doctors time because he can retrieve his patient’s health record quicker. In fact, doctors spend more time for documentation works instead of taking care of his patients.

When health care records become digitalized, there are more works for the doctors and nurses. That is the reason why beginning 2011, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act will offer incentive payments up to $64,000 if doctors can deploy an electronic health records system and use it effectively.

One option is to have an easy-to-use interface so that doctors, nurses and lab workers can save their time for documentation works. A hand-held device would encourage health care workers to use the system more frequent. The current software being written for use is aimed at administrators rather than health care workers and needs to be upgraded. The bad aspects of this option are initial cost to facilitate doctors with those devices and to build a universal electronic health records interface.

Another alternative is to implement the e-health records nationwide. One biggest advantage is that it will reduce the U.S. health care cost by $200 billion to $300 billion annually after spending about $75 to $100 billion. Nevertheless, there are less supported evidences showing that the system will save that much money. Besides, many people also concern about privacy issues when health records become electronic. The system helps doctors to access patients’ records easier but also makes those records more vulnerable to unauthorized access.

Others suggest the government should give doctors and nurses trainings to use the system instead of giving them financial incentives to do so. The benefits are doctor can now do paper works quicker and therefore, enhance the quality of care. However, to give doctors more administrative works besides his main duty, to cure patient, might be not useful. Besides, the training cost in a nationwide scale will be huge.

In the end, electronic health record systems will definitely be the future of the health care industry as technology development is moving forward. Currently, hospital are getting rid of paper-based records and adopting electronic records. Therefore, the best way to resolve this issue is giving health care doctors, nurses and lab workers training. Initially, it will cost a lot but in the long-run, an electronic health record system will reduce duplications, record-keeping errors, avoid fraudulent claims and better coordinating health care among providers. Lastly, government should also have provision regarding patients’ privacy concerns because many people consider information about their health to be highly sensitive, deserving the strongest protection under the law.

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