Some outside the information technology community fear that the increasing use of computers in healthcare will unnecessarily complicate patient care. However, it’s the goal of information technology IT in healthcare to do the opposite.
Healthcare IT consultants actively look for ways to simplify procedures and streamline operations.
The Role of IT Consulting in Modern Healthcare
Today’s powerful and complex computer programs have taxed the ability of in-house IT teams. It’s not financially feasible for most providers to maintain a full staff of computer experts capable of addressing every need. The result has been the rise of the outside IT healthcare consultant.
IT healthcare consultants are typically well-trained teams with experience in each phase of creation, testing, and implementation of custom-built software solutions for clients. They understand the relevant state and federal regulations, working well within their guidelines.
Identifying Operational Challenges in Healthcare Settings
Many of the operational challenges facing the healthcare industry relate directly to technology. For example, there’s the incorporation of telehealth, the concern over cybersecurity, and the need for data integration.
Telehealth allows people in isolated areas to have consultations with qualified health professionals via the internet. But there’s the challenge of providing the patient with ready access to the technology. The user also needs training to operate it.
Truly remote areas often have unreliable internet connections which make the technology null and void. And when the internet is available, there’s no guarantee that the connection will be strong enough for the patient and provider to clearly hear and see each other. A poor connection can lead to misunderstandings and incorrect treatments.
Transmission of data over the internet, such as during the use of telehealth, means the data must have reliable security. Data in transit is vulnerable but so is stored data.
Threats to healthcare data remain constant. In response, healthcare facilities must have in place rigid security standards, outlining how to safely transport and archive data. The vigilance must be 24/7 and include timely security audits and updates.
Once of the more vexing IT challenges in healthcare is the integration of data. Each vendor of a proprietary electronic health records (EHR) program builds an architecture of its own design. Naturally, the software is not built to communicate easily with the competition’s program.
So a healthcare provider may have a system that relies upon data from several EHR programs that can’t speak a common digital language. For example, when the provider pulls data from an EHR system into its primary platform, the resulting data may not display correctly.
Migrating data between incompatible systems is slow. In healthcare, minutes, and even seconds count. If a doctor or nurse needs patient information immediately, a slow-corresponding system can be dangerous.
Leveraging IT Consulting to Streamline Healthcare Operations
An excellent way to use outside IT experts is to get a gresh perspective of how to make your organization run more efficiently. Experienced IT consultants will be able to understand where the bottleneck is in your operation.
The problem may seem intractable but not to IT consultants who’ve likely addressed a similar issue with several other clients. That’s the type of advantage healthcare IT consulting provides.
They’ll have workable solutions to present to you confident that the final product will deliver data easier and faster than previously.
How IT Consulting Transformed Healthcare for Healthfully
U.S. healthcare provider Healthfully faced an all-too-common problem. It needed a way to take advantage of multiple third-party EHR programs while keeping their current patient management system (PMS).
Part of the solution meant planning for the future. It was likely that other companies would eventually produce new software packages that would appeal to Healthfully. So, the PMS was tweaked to allow smother integration with future software.
But if there’s a coding error in the third party software, it’s important that the entire system not be compromised. To prevent a problem from becoming systemwide, the IT consultants built an architecture where each software integration can be targeted, isolated, and repaired.
In practice, that means that if there are five EHR systems integrated into Healthfully’s PMS, either one can be quarantined. Meanwhile, the PMS can continue in use and still access data coming from the remaining four datasets.
The incoming data needs to be easily readable by the PMS. IT consultants designed services to convert data coming from any of the EHR datasets into the client’s required format.
That means that the data displayed correctly and appeared without unnecessary delays. The healthcare IT consulting experts also compiled thorough documentation of their efforts to help the inhouse IT team understand the system that it would be working with daily.
The Ongoing Potential of IT Consulting for Streamlined Operations
An honest examination of most healthcare operations by a health information technology consultant would reveal multiple areas where integration would yield streamlined results. Let’s look briefly at two health IT applications, the use of electronic prescriptions and data from fitness devices.
Medical E-Prescription Platform
There are many third-party e-prescription tools. You may have several in use. But the more third-party programs running on your system, the more likely a functionality issue or security concern is to occur. One solution is to have IT consultants design an eRx program specifically for your organization.
Useful data can come from everything from wearable fitness devices to gym equipment. Unfortunately, the data is in a variety of formats with their own protocols.
You want your platform to funnel that data through a consolidation system that reformats the data into an acceptable format. IT consultants can build the necessary software to make the incoming data beneficial.
The wearer could use an Apple Watch or a Fitbit. Your platform will still be able to read the information correctly.
Future Prospects for IT Consulting
Technology is only going to find new ways of collecting patient data. The abundance of information can be a boon to science but only if the data can be processed and read in a timely fashion.
IT consultants will continue to play a major role in making sure that’s possible. In other words, IT consultants can help your business get smarter while simultaneously becoming more efficient.