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Implementing Health Informatics Successfully


Information technology (IT) has contributed greatly to the advancement of healthcare. For example, electronic health records (EHRs) and population health management (PHM) software have streamlined care, improved patient access and collaboration and strengthened the ability to predict and treat illness and disease.

Harnessing and processing data into useful information is challenging, but it is a worthwhile endeavor as noted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC): "The successful implementation of a health IT system is essential to delivering safe care for patients and a more satisfying work experience for clinicians and staff."

What Factors Affect the Implementation of Health Informatics Systems?

Health IT often poses more difficulties than traditional IT. Due to the sensitive data involved, individuals working in this space must comply with strict state and federal regulations. Emerging technology, like mHealth applications and artificial intelligence, further complicate data collection and management. Anyone considering a career in healthcare IT must be knowledgeable of these trends.

An online Master of Science in Health Informatics program rounds out the skill sets of working professionals and primes them to navigate this dynamic environment. When implementing a health informatics system, the following factors are linked to a more successful rollout:

Meeting the needs of all stakeholders. A successful health IT system is one that is accessible to and meets the needs of all parties, not just a select few. Gathering input from all system users (patients, nurses, providers and management) can identify areas for improvement and "ensure the technology properly supports safe, effective clinical processes," says the ONC.     

Obtaining buy-in through purpose. People are busy, so any technology must be easy to use and relatively intuitive. End-user compliance is generally higher when IT specialists clearly explain the purpose of the technology and how its usage will positively contribute to a larger goal.

Optimizing workflow integration. A common complaint from healthcare workers is that IT systems are burdensome and disrupt their daily workflow. The PATIENT study, published in the March 2020 issue of Nursing Management, found that nurses spend more than 32% of their shifts using work-related devices like EHRs. Ideally, IT applications should aim to streamline screen time and workload by integrating seamlessly into existing workflows.   

Maintaining the feedback loop. Even after a successful launch, IT experts should continue to monitor the system for any hiccups. "Proactively ask your team members if they are experiencing problems and [listen] to their suggestions [for] improvements," recommends an article by HIT Consultant.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Implementing Health Informatics?

Despite the tremendous positive impacts of health IT — such as improved patient outcomes, disease forecasting and targeted care strategies — there are some downsides to remain aware of, including:

  • A 2016 study published in Health Care Management Review found that the "expertise and professionalism of IT staff" is key, and outsourced IT services are associated with lower quality of care when compared to their in-house counterparts. Although successful health informatics implementation is tricky to accomplish internally, experienced IT specialists can overcome these barriers and realize direct and tangible benefits for patients and their organizations.  
  • Leaders should continuously streamline applications and systems, so they do not become too resource-intensive or burdensome, as in the case of excessive screen time. Ongoing patches and improvements are necessary to safeguard data and require an educated IT staff to stay on top of emerging issues.

Health informatics is transforming the healthcare landscape and how everyone, from nurses to patients, engages in care. IT professionals who can navigate the complexities of this environment to launch successful healthcare information systems have the potential to create meaningful change.  

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University's Master of Science in Health Informatics (MHI) online program.


Sources:

Health Care Management Review: Effective Implementation of Health Information Technologies in U.S. Hospitals

HIT Consultant: 5 Fundamental Strategies of a Successful Health IT Implementation

Nursing Management: How Much Time Do Nurses Spend Using Electronic Devices at Work?

Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC): Implementing Health IT

 


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