Practicing clinicians strongly believe that health information technology (IT) can overcome communication challenges among care providers. Considering that a series of Institute of Medicine reports on errors in healthcare have led to widespread recognition that siloed practices and inadequate communication are primary contributors to medical errors, continued endorsement for health IT will lead to better communication and enhanced quality of care.
Those thoughts come from the 2013 iHIT study conducted by the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and HIMSS Analytics. Designed to explore the role of health IT from an inter-professional communication perspective, more than 500 clinician respondents working in a care delivery setting provided information on the value of health IT in support of quality care.
According to the study, the health IT tools in place at the provider organizations of respondents support various clinical processes and provide improved access to the information needed to prepare for delivery of care. This includes having improved access to information needed on patients transferring to a clinician’s unit/caseload, ultimately resulting in enhanced levels of patient care.
Highlights of the survey results:
General advantages of HIT: 70% of respondents were likely to note that health IT benefitted their overall ability to provide care efficiently, including the ability to have the information needed to understand their daily caseload.
Workflow implications of HIT: There is a high level of agreement (83%) among survey respondents regarding the role that health IT can play relative to the support of clinical processes, including the ability to provide quality care.
Information provided by HIT: 80% of respondents were highly likely to indicate that the information provided through the health IT tools available at their organization helped clinicians process data and improved access to information needed to provide safe patient care.
Pharmacy response: Pharmacists were far more likely than their physician or nurse counterparts to suggest that they found benefit from the use of health IT.
Ability to independently make decisions: Respondents working in technologically complex organizations were most likely to agree with the statement that access to information electronically has improved their ability to independently make decisions than those working for facilities within a less complex IT environment.
Magnet status: Responses from Magnet-designated hospitals scored higher on the iHIT response scale, ranging from four to eight points, than responses from non-Magnet designated facilities. Magnet is the American Nursing Credentialing Center’s national recognition program honoring healthcare organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence, and innovations in professional nursing practice.
“The use of health IT to support communication processes, data and information is a recent phenomenon,” says Joyce Sensmeier, MS, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN, vice president, Informatics, HIMSS. “But it is clear from this study that there are key opportunities for improvements in workflow and communication between colleagues through use of health IT tools and informatics competencies.”
The iHIT scale, originally developed by HIMSS and HIMSS Analytics in 2006, is designed to measure the perception of practicing clinicians regarding the ways in which HIT influence interdisciplinary communication, workflow patterns and the degree of satisfaction of clinicians with HIT applications and tools. Findings from this study suggest that the iHIT and its four subscales are a promising measure of attitudes towards the impact of HIT on the role of clinician communication.
The full results of the 2013 iHIT Study are available a www.himss.org/ihit
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