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Paperless Hospital: Reshaping Medical Informatics
IT is the tool for operational excellence at Artemis Health Institute. Although it does not bring direct revenues but indirectly IT helps reduce cost and increase revenues besides helping the management run day to day operations smoothly and do strategic planning for the future.
If one looks at the old set up that still exists in many government hospitals today, there is a huge amount of paper strewn all over the place. Even in some corporate hospitals, doctors are still using paper to write prescriptions. People in laboratories and various departments including nurses use paper to jot down the details of the patients, resulting in plenty of wastage of a valuable resource.
The extensive use of paper creates another hurdle. As the records get spread all over the place, it becomes almost impossible to analyze data which exists in the physical form. Thanks to IT that has changed the way we collect data in hospitals, access it at the click of the mouse and analyze it for usage in a number of ways.
Judicious data analysis helps us determine the specialties that are getting more number of patients besides the demographic profile and other details. So IT is more of a tool not only for brining operational excellence but also for devising strategies for the future depending upon what the data says about the operational performance of the hospital.
Medical informatics provides a strategic understanding to the decision-makers in the hospitals, gives them access to concrete information at the click of the button.
One of the challenges, however, is maintaining the confidentiality of the patient data, which is sacrosanct. We have disabled all ports within the hospital to ensure that no one can take data out. Even there are restrictions that certain files cannot be accessed by everyone or sent out of the hospital. However, many hospitals are still frivolously handling patient data.
Another challenge in the way of having paperless hospitals today is change management. The success of IT depends on its usage. The mindset has to change for doctors and nurses to start entering data on the system instead of using pen and paper. Some people find the processes too cumbersome and lengthy. Some doctors feel that their focus should be on treating patients and not using IT. In many hospitals you will find that they have the best software but no one is using it.
At Artemis, we run change management programs on a regular basis. Whenever a new employee joins, he/she will have to get trained on the use the Hospital Information System (HIS) and only then they are given their IDs.
We want the hospital to be patient-friendly. If IT can help create conditions so that patients want to come back to us, it would be a real success. But for many hospitals, a paperless set up is still a pipe dream.