Initially, substantial information regarding the patient’s condition upon entrance into the hospital or emergency room is needed and has to be recorded in a readily available information source. To be effective, then, accurate information on the patient’s prior treatment and conditions is needed promptly and completely at each phase of the treatment process by the appropriate professional healthcare provider. Subsequently, the professionals treating the patient need to record information at each point in the treatment process in order for each professional to be able to effectively identify the nature of the ailment and to recommend and then perform the appropriate treatment. Problems arise with this process when it is largely paper-based or stored in nonintegrated systems. Medical IT systems, on the other hand, can affect improvement of healthcare services delivery at hospitals, as this chapter will show.
Role Of Advanced And Basic Information Technology Applications As Improved Hospital Healthcare Enablers A Framework
The discussion in the following section provides an overview framework which might help provide guidance to those thinking about understanding, developing, and introducing IT systems into their hospital environment.
Hospitals face a similar problem that banks faced in the past attempting to electronically integrate different divisions and departments. Hospitals have also many divisions, such as radiology, emergency room care, test labs, prescriptions, medical nursing assistance, and kitchens and food service, which provide services to patients. The doctors deal with these different divisions, as well as with individual patients, as do nurses and other staff members whose time needs to be scheduled and managed. Tracking is needed to bill patients, preferably in a coordinated way, to maintain staff schedules, and to manage all operational areas efficiently and effectively.
Interestingly, many hospitals studied do not even have an integrated billing system for patients, who receive separate bills for different department services and room accommodations, thereby creating confusion among patients and their insurance companies.
An Integrated Accessible Electronic Database
Based on hospital experiences with IT development, the starting point almost always involves building accessible integrated electronic databases, especially in relation to individual patient information. The most significant applications of this are in the prescription writing and delivery area and in the ICU area.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Digital: The word digital is most commonly used in computing and electronics, especially where real-world information is converted to binary numeric form as in digital audio and digital photography.
Network Card: A network card, network adapter, network interface card or NIC is a piece of computer hardware designed to allow computers to communicate over a computer network.
Procurement: The acquisition of goods and/or services at the best possible total cost of ownership, in the right quantity and quality, at the right time, in the right place for the direct benefit or use of governments, corporations, or individuals, generally via a contract.
Information Systems: The study of information systems is usually a business administration discipline, and frequently involves software engineering, but also distinguishes itself by concentrating on the integration of computer systems with the aims of the organization.
Database: A collection of records stored in a computer in a systematic way, so that a computer program can consult it to answer questions. For better retrieval and sorting, each record is usually organized as a set of data elements (facts). The items retrieved in answer to queries become information that can be used to make decisions.
Telemedicine: The delivery of medicine at a distance. The term is composed of the Greek word te?e (tele) meaning “far,” and medicine. Telemedicine may be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over the telephone, or as complex as using satellite technology and video-conferencing equipment to conduct a real-time consultation between medical specialists in two different countries.
Information Technology: IT, also known as information and communication(s) technology (ICT and Infocomm, especially in Asia), is a broad subject concerned with technology and other aspects of managing and processing information, especially in large organizations. In particular, IT deals with the use of electronic computers and computer software to convert, store, protect, process, transmit, and retrieve information.