Information and communication technology has been adopted and implemented within various sectors of the economy. This is attributed to the benefits of technology in facilitating organizational activities and processes and its use in meeting the changes which characterize the modern society. The health sector is one of the industries which have significantly implemented technology. The health sector’s technological applications have been achieved within health information systems. The implementation of technology in this sector has resulted into both positive and negative implications on health care. This literature review focuses on reports of past research on the impact of technology within the health sector with an aim of analyzing how technology has affected the quality of care, the management of health record management processes and the direction of health care in general. Impact of Technology on the Quality of Health Care
The quality of health care is described in line with the efficiency, safety and patient satisfaction parameters which define various medical procedures and processes (Cantrill, 2010). A comparative study on the quality of health care within surgical procedures between America and England revealed that the efficiency of cardiac surgeries within American health care systems has been promoted by the employment of technological applications. It is due to this that the quality of cardiac surgery procedures within America has been argued to be better than that of England (Bau, 2011). However, researchers on the impact of technology on surgical operations reveal that health care systems within both England and the US are increasingly investing in technology because of the benefits that it causes in the quality of care especially within surgical operations. It is in this sense that it is notable that the satisfaction of patients in health care delivery is improved in addition to their confidence for improved health regardless of the complications related to specific conditions such as heart diseases.
The accuracy of health care processes especially in diagnosis has been improved through the application of medical technology. A survey on US health care systems revealed that technological equipment is becoming a common phenomenon within various health care systems within the US (Goyen & Debatin, 2009). Illustration of medical equipment for measuring blood pressure, heart rate and in radiological scanning has been given by researchers as accurate demonstration of the role of technology in improving the quality of care. An investigation on diagnostic procedures that employ medical technology reveals that the results that are depicted by medical equipment and technology are very accurate and reliable (Kibbe, 2012). These studies reveal that health care providers have employed technology to achieve both accuracy and reliability which comprise of the vital measure of quality in care.
A study on web based medical technologies and information systems in the treatment and care of individuals living with HIV/AIDs revealed that technological applications were indictors of quality in care. This is attributed to the use of medical technology to screen various illnesses among patients on the basis of their symptoms and laboratory tests (Jamal, McKenzie & Clark, 2009). In addition to making the work of health care practitioners, technology has allowed patients to receive appropriate management of their illnesses (Cantrill, 2010). However, the role of technology in promoting the quality of care is argued to be made possible through the expertise, knowledge and skills of the health care providers in implementing the technological applications in the processes of health care (Jamal, McKenzie & Clark, 2009). Technology has facilitated medical research among health care providers. Past literature on evidence based health care demonstrates that health care practitioners are enabled by technology to access vast medical literature within online databases (DeRenzi, Borriello, Jackson, Parikh, Virk, Lesh & Kumar, 2011).
This literature is used to provide high quality care through the implementation of evidence based care. Moreover, gaps in past research on health care have been identified by practitioners through electronic based research which is used to implicate on future research on improving quality of health care. Through such research, the current and future health care services are likely to demonstrate an increase in the safety, accuracy and efficiency of health care as measures of quality (Goyen & Debatin, 2009). Past literature on technology and its application within health care systems reveal that the morale of health care providers is promoted within health care organization which have adopted and implemented technology is health care delivery (Bau, 2011). This is due to the fact that technology presents health care staff with an appropriate working environments and a reduction of work pressures. In return the productivity of these employees in provision of high quality care is increased significantly. It is further emphasized that technology plays an important role in motivating health care staff because it enhances their communication with the management staff and administrators. As a result of improved communication, the needs of employees are articulated and understood. This leads to a situation where employees feel that their interests are prioritized which makes them committed and motivated in providing high quality health care services to their patients (Brooks & Grotz, 2010). Impact of Technology on the Management of Health Record
Medical records comprise of sensitive data which must be managed effectively to safeguard its confidentiality and as a result uphold the privacy of the patient. A qualitative study into the impact of medical technology in the management of health record reveal that the security of patient data has been enhanced through the use of technological encryption techniques within health record management systems (Postman, 1992). Regardless of this though, the security of electronic records is argued to be less guaranteed unless an information security policy and standards are designed and implemented in the management of electronic health records (DeRenzi, Borriello, Jackson, Parikh, Virk, Lesh & Kumar, 2011). Through such policies, unauthorized entry into health information systems can be avoided and as a result illegal use or distribution of private patient information is avoided.
The role of technology in health records management is demonstrated by the protection of this record by the professional code of conduct as well as the legal framework (Hoskins, 2009). An investigation on expenditure within health care organizations and systems reveals that many hospitals are laying huge budgets on the acquisition and installation of information systems within their operations especially in the management of medical record (Cantrill, 2010). This is attributed to both the voluminous and sensitive nature of health record. The process of digitization among hospitals where manual data is converted into digital data is also reported to have characterized the contemporary health care systems (Brooks & Grotz, 2010). This situation is motivated by the positive impact of technology in processing and retrieval of patient records or data by health record managers. These records are then timely presented by the health care providers for effectiveness in assessment, diagnosis and treatment of various conditions.
Health care practitioners have been described by past literature as pleased by the efficiency within which electronic records are managed because they allow them to acquire timely and relevant data for care. Information sharing within a health care system is said to be facilitated to a large extent when technological tools are employed in electronic communication among health care providers (Jamal, McKenzie & Clark, 2009). This includes efficiency in medical consultations among a team which manages a specific condition or case within a health care organization. A study on electronic exchanges among medical consultations reports that technology significantly promotes the sharing of data and information among these practitioners (Barr, 2012). This form of sharing includes comparing previous cases and symptoms with present cases so that accurate conclusive diagnoses are reached to pave way for treatment (DeRenzi, Borriello, Jackson, Parikh, Virk, Lesh & Kumar, 2011). Medical record on staff is managed effectively by hospital administrators.
This involves the process of human resource management through applications which facilitate appraisal and feedback systems between the management and employees. Through this, medical records whether on the patient or staff are effectively and efficiently managed through information and communication technology. The costs related to the management of health care records have been reduced greatly through the implementation of technology. The space requirement for the storage of electronic records I lowered by the use of electronic records within a health care systems via health record management systems (Virga, 2012). In addition, past literature on electronic health record management reveal that it is through technology that the durability of health records is enhanced.
This leads to the reduction of the costs related to the loss of such record. Health records within a system which has implemented technology represent a cost effective exchange of data as compared to the manual system. This is illustrated by the fact that electronic data transfer and management is cheaper than manual systems (Jamal, McKenzie & Clark, 2009). The cost benefit represents the justification why health care systems have invested more on technology than on other aspects of care delivery. Moreover, technology allows hospitals to improve their image among the consumers of their services and as a result gain from the increased sale of health services to patients (Brooks & Grotz, 2010). Technology is shaping the Direction of Health Care
The direction of health care in terms of the costs associated with care has been configured significantly through the application of technology within health care systems (Jamal, McKenzie & Clark, 2009). A comparative analysis of the cost of medical care within the US was conducted through a qualitative study. This investigation compared fully automated health care systems with those that have not achieved full automation in light of the costs that were incurred by the hospital and the patient in care. The investigation revealed that the cost of health care was significantly reduced with automation (DeRenzi, Borriello, Jackson, Parikh, Virk, Lesh & Kumar, 2011). This means that technology is shaping the direction of health care with a future that is likely to be more cost effective and pocket friendly for the patient in healthcare services. The reduced cost is related to the efficiency that is achieved through technology within medical processes and the reduced burden of work by the health care professionals though automated diagnostic, therapeutic and assessment processes. Regardless of this, it is necessary to note that the initial cost that is associated with acquisition and implementation of health care information systems is relatively high (Hoskins, 2009).
Technology is also shaping the future of health care reform in terms of policies, standards and ethics of professional conduct in the use of technology in medical practice and research (Gilmer, et al, 2012). Investigators on the impact of technology on health care reflect that the issues related to technology such as security, safety and training for technological proficiency are most likely to shape the amendment of policies on technological applications in health care (Barr, 2012). For example hospitals are being mandated to employ electronic communication with their patients so that they would keep them up to data on their medical conditions and tests. However the extent into which patients will utilize technology to promote communication with health care providers is influenced by social cultural and economic factors (Virga, 2012). The management of health care organizations and systems at all level is being shaped or influences through the implementation of technology in these systems.
It is notable that technology is the prerequisite of effective management within the health care systems of the future. This is an important consideration because the management of employees and programs within the health sector determines their ability to reach the set objectives and goals (DeRenzi, Borriello, Jackson, Parikh, Virk, Lesh & Kumar, 2011). the health care systems that have shaped the achievement of better management includes decision support systems which allow health care administrators to make accurate and effective decisions on various programs and processes on care (Jamal, McKenzie & Clark, 2009). It is through technology that the management of health care from the governmental level through to the hospital level has been facilitated. For example decisions on health policies such as managed care are achieved effectively through data analysis by technological packages and graphical presentation of findings and interpretations to policy makers and as result achieving accurate and informed decisions. Conclusion
In light of the above discussion, review of literature and illustrations, it is conclusive that technology has played a significant role in promoting health care. Regardless of the challenges that health systems face in the implementation of technology such as high initial cost and securing systems, technology has generally revealed many benefits in health care. For example the efficiency of health care procedures, their accuracy and safety have been enhanced through technological tools. This means that technology has played a central role in promoting the quality of health care delivery within hospitals and other health care systems. More significantly is the positive implication of technology in the management of health care records. This includes improving security through encrypted systems, reduced cost of health records management and exchange of data and information about patients and health care providers among these practitioners and the management for effective decision making. It is arguable that the adoption and implementation of technology within the health care system is presented by past literature as the driver of change which is shaping all processes in health care delivery.
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