New study analyzes barriers to the utility of HIT investments

When properly utilized, healthcare IT applications such as electronic medical records, electronic billing and esprescribing software can be valuable tools that reduce the likelihood of errors within medical practices and ultimately improve patient care outcomes.

However, according to a recent study that analyzed the deployment of healthcare IT platforms at seven different Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – the United States' largest integrated health system – failing to properly plan for the infrastructure and management required during a transition to new technology can greatly diminish the utility of the investment.

Recently published by the American Journal of Managed Care, the study entitled "What Determines Successful Implementation of Inpatient Information Technology Systems?" surveyed a variety of medical professionals including facility managers, nurses, pharmacists, physicians and IT staff over several years.

After analyzing the surveys' results, the researchers concluded that a gradual and flexible healthcare IT implementation approach supplemented by top-down change management from hospital leaders were important factors in overall IT implementation success.

Moreover, the researchers determined that bountiful resources need to be set aside to troubleshoot any problems that arise, and that the facility needs to prepare for setbacks and work through them to achieve success in the new system.

"The take-home lesson is that if you take a complex project and are not very careful, you can screw it up, and that can have an impact on patient safety," said Peter Kilbridge of Advisory Board Company in an InformationWeek article.

In order to achieve these goals and reap optimal benefit from healthcare IT investments, it would therefore be wise to partner with a medical technology consulting company to facilitate seamless change management. With implementation tailored to a specific business model as well as in-depth employee training, these professionals can provide the leadership necessary to motivate employees to work through issues with new technology rather than reverting back to antiquated data management systems.

Microwize Technology is a leading healthcare IT consultant offering products such as electronic medical records software and medical billing software from top providers like Allscripts and McKesson, including McKesson's Medisoft, Lytec and Practice Choice products.