Information technology pertains to electronic tools that facilitate several processes that are commonly employed in an institution, including the collection, storage, retrieval and transfer of information from one site to another. It should be understood that information technology increases the speed in data handling not only within one institution, but also within a network that may be composed of multiple sites around the world.
Information technology thus enhances the transmission of data, as well as increases the volume of processes that could be performed at the same time. The state of information technology has rapidly evolved in the last few decades, resulting in its application in almost every field of profession. In the field of medicine, information technology has improved the quality of healthcare by facilitating different processes in the system.
Information technology has revolutionized the storage and maintenance of medical records (Hillestad et al. , 2005). The classical method of record keeping involves thousands of files in every healthcare institution and a group of highly efficient record keepers who meticulously store and retrieve patient medical records. In the event that the patient needs to consult with another department or physician of the hospital, his records are physically retrieved from the files and carried over to the next clinic.
Unfortunately, consulting another physician in another hospital would be more challenging as a referral document needs to be written and delivered to the next institution before the patient is allowed to appear for a medical consult. Information technology has revolutionized healthcare by converting patient records in an electronic format that could be retrieved at any time a physician (Bardach et al. , 2009). In addition, the electronic format facilitates the manner of reviewing the patient’s chart as his history is immediately available at the click of specific commands on the software.
This technology thus saves time in physically performing retrieval tasks, which in turn can be critical when the medical condition of a patient is quite serious. Electronic medical records also expands the capacity of consolidating information on a particular patient, as all test records could be integrated into one single file. The employment of electronic medical records also improves the communication between the patient and the physician, mainly due to the ease and speed of accessing the patient’s chart (Hsu et al. , 2005).
Instead of spending time in finding the patient’s records in the filing cabinet, the physician thus spends more time in assessing the patient’s current condition and in designing a treatment regimen for the patient. With this setting of ample interaction and personal attention from the physician, the patient will feel properly attended to by his physician. It should be understood that the positive interaction between the physician and the patient strongly influences the success and adherence of the patient to a treatment plan.
The application of information technology to healthcare has also enhanced the capacity in prescribing medications to patients (Garrido et al. , 2005). Using a patient database for administered drugs, physicians and pharmacists can quickly check specific medications and dosages that have been given to a particular patient. There are many cases of intoxication or drug-drug interactions as there are usually no available information of previous medications that a patient has taken and retrieval of paper-based records takes some time to complete.
Pharmacies can also monitor the amount of drugs that have been supplied to the patients and regulate the amount of refills, which in turn can prevent drug abuse or intoxication. Healthcare has also benefited from information technology by facilitating physicians in requesting for medical procedures. Instead of having a physician provide a written request for a diagnostic test or medical procedure, information technology allows the physician to request the same procedures through a hospital database and just direct the patient to proceed to the next clinic or laboratory.
Information technology also upgrades the method of making decisions with regards to specific medical conditions. It is a frequent occurrence that a patient develops a disease that needs to be attended by several doctors of different specializations. It is thus common to find a medical team composed of a cardiologist, pulmonologist, anesthesiologist and surgeon, discussing the condition of a single patient.
Each of these specialists has very hectic schedules and thus it is difficult for them to be at a single site to discuss a patient’s condition. Information technology allows case discussions between specialists through the use of teleconferences, which involves computer-based software in providing both visual and audio access to other sites of the network. Information technology has also helped healthcare institutions consult specialists who may be in another hospital within the country and in another institution across the globe.
Patient records, as well as data images from diagnostic tests from computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or electrocardiograms, could be electronically sent to any other point around the world without any deterioration in the quality of the data. This feature increases the capacity of a healthcare institution in completing an assessment of a patient and in designing of the next appropriate procedure or treatment that should be performed on the patient. Healthcare has significantly improved through the adaptation of information technology.
Electronic data storage, retrieval and transmission have enhanced the capacity for physicians and other healthcare personnel to review and follow specific instructions in taking care of patients. Prescription of drugs and monitoring of conditions of the patient has also improved as electronic formats have been installed in almost every hospital department. The improvement of healthcare using information technology has also increased the time that could be spent in personally attending to patients, which ultimately enhances the quality of healthcare services.
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