Efficient Patient Care, That’s What It’s All About

Katie Jankowski, implementation engineer, Summit Healthcare; a HIMSS Gold Corporate Member and National Health IT Week Partner

During National Health IT Week, champions from across the industry are uniting to share their voices on how health IT is catalyzing change in U.S. healthcare. The following post from a National Health IT Week Partner is one of the many perspectives of how information and technology is transforming health in America.

Katie Jankowski

I remember working at a local dentist office sorting through patient records and putting them back into the correct alphabetical order on shelves in a back room. I remember printing off the next day’s appointments and pulling each patients’ giant manila folder in anticipation for their arrival. I remember faxing 37 pages of information to another dentist because the patient switched due to insurance limitations.

I remember thinking this was so much work and it was 2010. Why was I allocating this much time doing all these things? There must have been a better, more efficient way.

It’s enlightening to think about how healthcare technology has transformed. It’s impressive to see how many systems can seamlessly interact with each other and how much data is accessible to these systems.

Sorting through patient records is a pastime and giant manila folders are obsolete since records are now available within electronic health record (EHR) systems. These 37 pages of information don’t need to be faxed because they can be sent electronically to another system, quickly. Forget about waiting to be mailed your test results or waiting for a phone call on your landline to hear your results. We can now log into a patient portal and view everything there, even send a message to our physician asking if he or she can refill our prescription.

How many times have we called to make an appointment not realizing it was lunch time at our physician’s office? We can now electronically request an appointment.

Medical information is at our fingertips now; the access limitation is gone.

What Does this Mean for Patients?

Patients can now rest easy knowing that their caregiver has access to their most recent health summary. They can log into their patient portal to review recent test results or ask their provider a question. They can request appointments and prescription refills and have peace of mind that all their data is in one place.

What Does this Mean for Healthcare Providers?

Healthcare providers can take pride in their decreased response time when treating patients. They can now receive alerts and notifications, keeping them up to date on their patients’ progress or recent hospital visits. They can also have a sense of availability knowing that their patients are only a click away.

Without this electronic transfer of data, a patient could present at a hospital under emergency conditions and the doctors may not know if he or she was allergic to a certain medicine or suffering from a prior condition. Doctors can request that information from patients and have he or she fill out paper forms, but this ultimately comes with a cost to the patient.

How Much Time Have We Wasted Requesting Repetitive Information Instead of Administering Care?

Doctors can now have your chart readily available if you go to the emergency department and will already know your allergies and current medications, to avoid a medical interaction.

With interoperability, we have dramatically decreased the time spent requesting patient data and increased the response time of caregivers. This is due, in part, to access being provided to patients and doctors, but also due to having documents available and transferable in an electronic format. It’s intriguing to see how far healthcare interoperability has come in the past few years and is exciting to see where it will take us in the coming years.

One thing is for certain – there will be less focus on repetitive questions and paper documents, and more focus on efficient patient care and effective treatment plans. That’s what healthcare interoperability is all about.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

National Health IT Week | October 8-12

Healthcare Transformation | Access to Care | Economic Opportunity | Healthy Communities

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