United States' health care system is a picture of free market in the US economy. With this in mind, one can deduce that there is no limit as to how private sectors would largely affect the health industry. Despite the known quality of healthcare in the US, many are still not having access to it due to high cost of care.
United States as a developed country is without question full of high and technologically advanced facilities for medicine and health care in general. People invest in their health by paying for high-tech medicine. In fact, the result of this is the fact that United States has the highest average spending on health per capita if compared to Australia, Canada, France and Germany (Tulchinsky and Varavikova, 2009). In line with this, many business persons are trying to incorporate a healthy ground for business in the health care system. Therefore, it cannot not be prevented that the entire medical health care system in the United States is highly influenced by the business world. This in return contributed to the factors that create higher cost for medical health care system in the United States. People seem to agree with this for a long time because there is a strong demand for high quality health care, which at some point is being associated with high cost. Thus, one has to pay much just to be ensured of high quality.
As one might be able to observe, United States compared to other countries has to pay higher prices for health care goods and services. One of the reasons of this is due to relatively higher administrative overhead costs for relatively simpler health-insurance systems. In addition, the United States is known to use high-cost and high-tech equipment and procedures making the total health care cost expensive as a result. Further, United States is known for its culture when it comes to tort laws. In this regard, medicines undergo numerous defensive procedures to prevent any legal consequences instead of ensuring more beneficial clinical impacts for mankind.
In order to address this issue, the government is trying to look for more convenient alternatives. Substantial health reforms are at the verge of political and economic agenda to rescue the declining performance of American health care system (Kristof, 2009). In addition, various researches are being conducted in order to find out the reason of downward spiraling longevity of life among Americans compared to other developed countries. Some findings suggest that this is not because of drawbacks in healthcare system in the United States, but because of people’s lifestyle (Tierney, 2009).
Whatever the reason might be, there is only one thing that Americans want: they want to have high quality health care system that will be able to satisfy their needs. Perhaps, majority would agree that there is certainly a need to reduce cost. Of course, United States is known for high-tech medical facilities and medicine, however their costs can be excessively high for a typical American citizen. One of the significant and highly debated alternatives is to aggressively implement information technology , which will lower the cost for health care and medical needs of the Americans. In fact, president Obama was able to secure budget of about $19 billion for the country just to pursue paperless system of electronic health records for improvement of care and reduction of cost (Freudenheim, 2010).
With regard to these trends, Niles believed that the growth of number for health care occupations and professions would continue to inflate (2010). In the case of applying information technology, there will be a strong demand for highly skilled personnel who can actually perform and adapt to the new system that has to be integrated with information technology. This is a remarkably good opportunity for those who have skills relevant to information technology that are highly applicable in the field of health care system. In the context of health care system in United States, more people demand innovation just to ensure efficiency and reduced cost. At some point, there is a need to implement information technology. However, information technology cannot be successfully implemented without manpower with substantial ideas or information about the new working system.
There exist questions and concerns regarding the quality of health care available to workers in the US where organizations are increasingly trying to cut down on costs that health care plans add to their overall costs. What role does technology play in this problem has not been touched upon and requires a framework for understanding. Technology in the health care and also in organizations has advanced rapidly and has opened doors to new forms of solutions and alternatives for organizations that have proved to be cost effective. The paper will attempt to link technology with the quality of health and how integration of the two would benefit employees and their productivity.
This qualitative case study will explore productivity experiences and Information Technology contributing factors within the healthcare industry. The study will examine the Health Information Management (HIM) executives’ perceptions of personal events that resulted in recognition of the need for emerging technology and/or personnel training to support the facility's mission.
In today’s age of advancement of technology information is very important. In every area of expertise information is always taken into wide range of considerations. In healthcare, for instance, the government is very ambitious to integrate the maximum potential of information technology to the fullest. This intention is good for the entire healthcare system. However, various considerations still need to be taken into account. For instance, it always beneficial to look not just at the impact of information technology on the entire healthcare system, but it is very important to look at the basic unit. Since the staff or personnel is considered to be the most important resource of an organization, the bottom line will start focusing on them prior to the full implementation of a working system with the advancement of information technology.
This paper tries to correlate information technology and the productivity of staff or personnel in the healthcare system. Thus, the following questions are answered by the study.
- What is the status of staff's or personnel’s productivity with the integration of advanced information technology in the healthcare system?
- What is the associated cost of integrating the advancement of information technology in healthcare system?
- What is the impact of information technology on personnel’s attitude towards their job?
The present study is an exploratory study, which attempts to link concepts together to find a new area of interest for scholars to further investigate it using empirical research studies. The study makes use of qualitative analysis but based on secondary findings. The prime methodology adopted to investigate the problem area and fill the gap in literature takes the form of secondary research. Library research is the main focus of this study in order to obtain substantial information for the subject. The researcher was able to make use of books, journals and reputable websites such as New York Times in gathering important and relevant information for the study. The research design is tied closely to the problem at hand, wherein, the information collected from the sources of research journals, books, news papers and websites is used to answer the research questions raised in the present study.
For this particular study, the use of secondary research findings to answer the research problem has the following advantages:
- More secondary information can be gathered from reputable sources;
- There is easy access to information through the web, books and academic journals if library research is employed;
- The researcher had substantial knowledge to be integrated into one concise idea prior to generating conclusion;
- With library research, information can be ensured to be coming from various experts or reputable sources.
- Contribution to Knowledge
There exist questions and concerns regarding the quality of health care available to workers in the US where organizations are increasingly trying to cut down on the costs that health care plans add to their overall costs. What role does technology play in this problem area has not been researched and requires a framework for understanding. Technology in the health care has advanced rapidly and has opened doors for new forms of solutions and alternatives for organizations that have proved to be cost effective. The paper identifies a clear gap that exists in the literature relating to the integration of the two concepts: healthcare of the employees and technology. It attempts to fill this gap by linking technology with the quality of health and study how integration of the two would benefit employees and their productivity.
In United States, healthcare personnel belongs to one of the largest labor forces. In fact, 200 occupations and professions encompass the current 13 million health care workers (Niles, 2010). The new system for health information technology, however, requires training for personnel because it is getting complicated for them. In fact, there were frequent reports on misunderstanding and informational breakdowns about patients (Sultz & Young, 2010). This needs to be addressed in order to obtain a good promise of information technology in its integration in health care system. There are more issues regarding this concern, but they can only be addressed once everything has started. However, the most important part here is to create better foundation for those personnel involved in working with integrated information technology.
The number of world health workers and health providers is expected to increase till the year 2016. Domestic health care services are also expected to grow but unfortunately only at 3.3 percent rate. Both private and public hospitals have overall percent of employment of 39.9 percent. Unfortunately, the percent of providers is only 1.3 percent. It should be noted that the highest number of providers is found in offices of physicians while the highest percent of employment is in both public and private hospitals. The figures above show the status of health care system in the United States.
In fact, it was also reported that medication errors, inadequate training and knowledge of software applications are some of the disadvantages in applying information technology in health care system (Warholak, Murcko, McKee & Urbine, 2010). On the other hand, the benefits are reduction of handwriting interpretations errors, improvement of formulary compliance, improvement of the communication with prescribers, increase in efficiency and ensured data accuracy (Warholak, Murcko, McKee & Urbine, 2010). These all benefits reflect on efficiency of those services in the health care system whose personnel learned to accept and effectively operate information technology. Efficiency of coding and billing and quicker access to patient records are significant advantages of new health information technology (Sultz & Young, 2010). This implies efficient and productive output of medical personnel of health care system in the United States.
The use of Internet is without question another important way to gather information regarding diseases and other related health medical concerns of a person (Morrison, 2009). However, Morrison pointed out that this may give a patient information that may confuse the whole diagnostic process considering that not all websites on the Internet are reputable or displaying reliable information. In this regard, much of doctor’s time may be spent on diagnostics alone. This might lead to reduction of doctors’ work efficiency depending on the level of information a patient has on a particular disease or other health-related concern.
Technology is said to change how medicine is practiced (Morrison, 2009). For instance, Internet can be used by patients for diagnoses. Because of this, patients are often already armed with information even before they get medical advice from experts. However, as Morrison emphasized it, we cannot be certain of the information we get on the Internet. It is, therefore, implied that a patient cannot be exactly certain about the quality of information he or she finds, however he or she can create significant obstacles for the doctor’s diagnosis. On the other hand, knowing that the patient has used the Internet to generate substantial information, Morrison clearly stated that doctors can also use the Internet to search for information, especially if the source is reputable. Some of the reliable sources are reputable academic online journals, professional websites, news experts, etc.
Telemedicine is another application of information technology (Morrison, 2009). This is a combination of computers, videoconferencing, and digitized medical records that are transported via-satellite or high-speed telephone lines. The good thing about them is wide reach to areas, where there are few medical experts that could readily serve the needs of people. E-mails have also become a valuable way of communication between patients and doctors (Morrison, 2009). This is an assurance that doctors are able to consistently follow up and stay in contact with their patients. In this way, high quality service is ensured.
Health information technology needs to be understood through the prism of needs, knowledge and expectations of health care professionals. This was the case of Arizona’s health care professionals, who admitted remarkable advantages and disadvantages of an electronic prescribing (Warholak, Murcko, McKee & Urbine, 2010). Part of the advantages the health care professionals outlined were reduction of handwriting interpretation errors, improvement of formulary compliance, improvement of the communication with prescribers, increase in efficiency and ensured data accuracy. The disadvantages however included medication errors, inadequate training and knowledge of software applications and increased patient expectations. Both advantages and disadvantages of new health care system in the United States prove that information technology cannot create perfect value right away and there is still much to be learned about it.
Another way to deliver high quality health care is to use electronic medical record (EMR) (Morrison, 2009). Morrison emphasized that with EMR medical errors are decreased and associated medical costs are lowered. However, automation is being implemented remarkably slow. Going to the clinic or to the hospital requires medical personnel to search through medical records prior to administering care. In United States this remains the status quo even if there the use of new improved technology and electronic communication system is available (Milstein and Bates, 2010).
Despite the $19 billion that Obama Administration has spent on paperless system for electronic health records, only one out of four doctors use electronic health records. Further, there are many independent reports related to the failures of information technology: 260 malfunctions, 44 reported injuries and six reported deaths from 2008 to 2009 (Freudenheim, 2010).
In United States, healthcare personnel belongs to one of the largest labor forces. In fact, 200 occupations and professions encompass the current 13 million health care workers (Niles, 2010). The new system for health information technology, however, requires training for personnel because it is getting complicated for them. In fact, there were frequent reports on misunderstanding and informational breakdowns about patients (Sultz & Young, 2010). This needs to be addressed in order to obtain a good promise of information technology in its integration in health care system. There are more issues regarding this concern, but they can only be addressed once everything has started. However, the most important part here is to create better foundation for those personnel involved in working with integrated information technology. This is a new system, therefore one of the most important tasks is to be able to address needs of users, personnel, staff or medical practitioners who are the first line users of the system. This is just a matter of preparing them for what to come next as the implementation progresses.
As mentioned earlier, reduction of cost was one of the primary reasons why the need to implement a new health care system with integrated information technology arised. However, there are more reasons why there is a need for information technology. United States needs to pursue health information technology infrastructure in order to improve efficiency, reduce medical errors, raise the quality of care, and provide better information for patients, physicians and other health care providers (Sultz & Young, 2010). All of these are significant for improvement of the quality of health care service as well as for implementation of necessary corrections of the current system of health care in the United States. In fact, as a highly developed country,United States must necessarily ensure better quality of life for its people. This can be achieved by providing better health care with the inclusion of information technology.
Information technology is one of the ways to communicate important data across health care systems nationwide (Niles, 2010). As a way of showing the importance of information technology, health care organizations employ chief information officers and chief technology officers to manage their data (Niles, 2010). This only shows that information technology is of high importance not only in other fields but in health care system particularly. This proves that information technology has already gained positive reputation in the creation of a health care system for the benefits of the people.
Specific applications of information technology such as e-prescribing, telemedicine, e-health, etc are excellent advances in technology (Niles, 2010). Efficiency of coding and billing and quicker access to patient records are significant advantages of new health information technology (Sultz & Young, 2010). This specific information leads to a conclusion that information technology is an opportunity for the staff and personnel in health care system to meet the demand and need for more efficient and quick service output. For instance, electronic patient record will help reduce medical errors (Niles, 2010). Electronic patient records that can be accessible across the entire health care system of the country are efficient for the treatment of patients and, thus, must be implemented in the health care industry (Niles, 2010). In fact, this is a clear indication that the United States has realized the need to improve its health care system further with the development of competitive advantage in information technology. However, the only way to find out if IT really works is to implement it prior to understanding its effects.
In the case of advancing information technology, there is no question that there are cost implications for the health care system. In fact, the e-health care system is becoming more complex and because of that it demands further training for hired technicians with special skills. This increases the capital cost incurred by organizations. In fact, some facilities may actually need some renovation or expansion at some point to increase the probability and chances of success of the deployment of the new technology. Finally, another source of cost is the utilization of the new technology. This is in line with further investments so as to maximize its usage potential. Part of this is maintenance cost or other related costs, that can collectively add to further cost implications for the organization.
From the basic standpoint of every business, costs are added to the final price of products, services or offerings. In order to have cheaper service offerings it is important to have a low cost business model wherein costs of production and other related operations are minimized and efficiently managed as the organization cannot always charge higher prices for its services given economic changes that occur in the external environment that influence the decisions of the consumers of the services.
Americans rely heavily on technology. However, they cannot escape the eventual result of any advancement brought about by the advanced technology in the health care service. The issue of cost belongs to the commercial aspect of the healthcare organization. Patients enjoy the advancement of technology, but health care system is not free in the United States. Everyone is obliged to pay. Since there is a specific culture of looking at what is better to be highly associated with technology, most likely patients will have to pay much because the business side has to charge high prices for applying technological advancement.