Evaluating Technology for Health Care: Perspectives & Issues

Instructor: Maya Shapland

Maya has worked in the clinical, education, and management sections of healthcare for over 25 years and holds bachelor's degree in Speech and associate degree in Nursing.

In this lesson, you'll learn why it is important to conduct multi-perspective and multi-method evaluations and look at more than just the bottom line when evaluating technology for health care.

Health Information Technology

Darrell is a nurse who uses his clinical skills and knowledge of patient care areas to work with health information technology (HIT). He builds programs for a hospital that are designed to:

  • Store valuable patient health information
  • Allow access to the health record by providers, leadership, and staff
  • Design changes that flow with the clinical care given by the nurse and ancillary staff
  • Provide clinical decision support to help make patient care safer
  • Support quality and safety in HIT policies adopted by the hospital

Electronic Health Records

Health care is moving from paper to computers in an effort to streamline information available at the point of need in the care of the patient. This transition is mandated by the Affordable Care Act and has increased the pace of growth in health care technology.

The change involves the use of electronic health records (EHR), which rely on technology to store and retrieve the patient's health information and document the care given. EHRs can include health history, physical examination notes, test results, allergies and medications, and other important patient information.

Health information is protected by law and demands vigilance from HIT professionals to keep records safe and secure. Darrell is the hospital's champion in the education of staff to enforce the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). This law has important regulations to safeguard protected health information and stiff fines for violators.

Multiple Perspectives

Darrell is attempting to find the right technology products for his organization and must consider many concepts when evaluating technology for health care.

Technology Concept Issues to Consider
Electronic health records Ease of access and user-friendliness
Security of health information Laws mandating security of health records
Product selection Needs of physicians, nurses, and other providers
Data Ability to astract data from the technology for reporting to payors and government

Health care technology is spreading out into many areas to make the nation's health care easier, safer, and more efficient. Darrell collaborates with many types of health care providers to create a tool that can be accessed by staff members who are caring for patients or tracking the data needed to support coding, billing, and much more. This is an example of interoperability, which is the ability of many providers, payors, and government surveillants of disease to access and share information for the benefit of the patient and each other.

Access to patient records by those caring for the patient

The guidelines for evaluating health care technology are evolving to include those who will be working with the HIT system. Some of the stakeholders who will need to provide feedback for the evaluation include:

  • Physicians and other providers
  • Information technology professionals
  • Nurses from each unit
  • Medical billing and coding professionals and health information management
  • Registration and/or front desk staff
  • Medical suppliers
  • Ancillary departments
  • Organizational leadership
  • Staff responsible for patient safety and quality
  • Insurance or payors
  • Patients and family representatives
  • Financial officers with information regarding impacts to the organization

Making the right choice involves multiple perspectives. The financial impacts must be considered, but cannot overshadow the decisions entirely. Testing the products available can be more effective when the whole team is on board.

Using clinical trials to evaluate health information technology has not proven to be totally successful in the past, but the industry is now moving toward more valuable tools of evaluation using multiple perspective approaches. Asking the hard questions will open the path to the right products and design. The focus of the evaluation involves economic and social impacts, organizations requirements, and ethical concerns. Applications that address patient care must be evaluated for the flow of care delivered and the information available to keep patients and staff safe.

Selecting the Right Technology

Darrell and the leadership are changing to a more modern electronic health record. He has formed a team to scout out the best products to choose from. This is an opportunity for the stakeholders to let their needs be heard and to provide a guiding hand in the selection of the best product. They must ensure:

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