Table of Contents
Electronic Health Records (EHR) is a strategy that has been highly commended for the benefits it has brought in the health sector. It dwells on the past, current and future information concerning a patient’s health history. It ensures that stakeholders or various healthcare professionals can access it in a secure manner. Healthcare professionals can also share the information to authorized users and other healthcare providers to implement important healthcare programs. The rate of EHR adoption has been significantly slow despite having a rollout plan by the Irish government to see that it covers all the necessary areas of coverage. The implementation of the EHR has cost the government substantial sum of money and there are expectations that the government is likely to invest more on the strategy (Toebes et al. 2014, p.3). The fact that not significant progress has been achieved with regard to the national efforts made by the Irish government to implement the system throughout the country. The government has had substantial failures with regard to various electronic projects including electronic voting and PPARS that were abandoned. EHR strategy is important because it leads to improvements in the Irish healthcare system that enhances the quality of life in the country.
This paper seeks to lay down an IT implementation plan that leads to the realization of the EHR strategy in the Irish healthcare system. EHR is highly beneficial to the citizens, patients, and health care professionals in the country. The strategy can lead to optimal patient centered care especially when it has been efficiently or effectively applied. It helps healthcare professionals deliver more personalized treatment that leads to a significant reduction of errors and the duration in which an individual may be hospitalized. The strategy helps facilitate equality and socio economic inclusion because a patient is empowered through greater access to services, and relevant information, transparency, and the use of tools such as social media for healthcare (Toebes et al. 2014, p.4). The electronic health strategy ensures that there is optimal utilization of resources in the healthcare sector. The Irish healthcare is capable of responding to various challenges that have been defined by the European Union. Moreover, experts concur that the strategy is likely to initiate economic growth and development especially if it is applied in an exhaustive manner.
The strategy is developed to achieve various objectives while proposing a roadmap that can be utilized to implement outcomes that are based on delivery models. Implementing the strategy needs to be consistent with an elaborate information systems plan aimed at addressing areas of consideration. The IT infrastructure also needs to consider stakeholder contribution and engagement while delivering a set of priority projects in the health sector.
The IT infrastructure need to integrate all information and sources of knowledge that is involved in the delivery of healthcare. The information include records of patients, caregivers, and the systems that the caregivers depend on to monitor the treatment of the patients (Madden 2014, p.7). The IT infrastructure should also be able to integrate a digital network that may involve high levels of systems automation and sharing of important information.
Some of the areas that the integration of the IT infrastructure needs to capture include the electronic prescription that enable patients to make orders of prescriptions. Patient scheduling that can be done online is also an important area of consideration. Patients can manage their healthcare and appointments with doctors from anywhere such as homes (De 2015, p.2). Integration of other IT systems such as robotic surgical systems, ambient assistive living, and body worm sensing devices also need to conform to the proposed strategy. It is evident that the healthcare sector has not been moving at the pace that other sectors have moved according to IT standards.
Targeted Healthcare Segment
The healthcare segment that this strategy will focus on is patient centered care that has become the focus of Ireland’s health system. The segment is popular for its effectiveness in achieving desired results in terms of care provision. However, it is yet to be fully achieved or appreciated in the health system (Barnsteiner, Disch & Walton 2014, p. 4). Research indicates that patients show positive response in the manner they receive treatment, are unsatisfied with their access of vital health records. In fact, some of them have shown concern over the failure of their caregivers to help them understand the treatment procedures and possible options that can be applied in achieving the desired results. In addition, some patients have expressed the need to get explanations concerning the medications that are prescribed for them. Many of them appreciate the fact that some practitioners are able to provide compassionate and responsive services from their caregivers.
The key attributes of this healthcare segment include education and sharing of knowledge, involvement of family members and friends, partnering with patients and team management, sensitivity to areas that have no association with medicine and spiritual proportions of care. Respect for the needs and preference of the patient is also an essential attribute (Barnsteiner, Disch & Walton 2014, p.4). In addition, access to free flowing information is also a vital attribute in this segment.
It is essential to take note of the factors that motivate patient centered care. They include leadership that ensures the top management has the necessary commitment to sustain the organization in a unified mission (Barnsteiner, Disch & Walton 2014, p.6). A strategic vision that is clearly communicated among the practitioners is helpful in achieving the overall goal of the organization. The involvement of the patient’s family ensures that the family have the information regarding the treatment of the patient at various levels. They are important participants in key committees in the provision of care (Centers for Disease Control 2016, p.6). Care for caregivers through a working environment that is supportive is also an essential aspect of patient centered care. It is important because it engages the employees in various aspects of the care and process design. Systematic measurement and feedback ensures that healthcare practitioners can monitor the impacts of their interventions (Ireland & Stein 2016, p. 6). The proposed technology aspect helps practitioners to engage patients and their families directly when providing care. The quality of the environment under which care is provided allows the practitioners to serve patients in the best possible way. The environment allows them to nurture a care deign to patients, their families and other employees.
One of the reasons behind the slowed development is the realization of failure to adapt to the management and operational changes in the sector. There has been failures in the development of proper reimbursement systems, and processes based on information systems as an enabler of transformation of the healthcare sector (Jordan 2016, p.5). The IT infrastructure must allow the promotion of population health and the creation of the economic development potential for the benefit of the public.
An EHR system that has been properly integrated with the IT infrastructure is expected to achieve several benefits or deliverables. These include empowering the patient and delivering care that is centered on the patient. There is considerable focus on the care process that covers all activities including diagnosis, treatment, prevention and the maintenance of a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. It also ensures the provision of a more efficient, effective system that is safer to access, while providing transparent care services (Ireland, Wall & Cengage Learning (Firm) 2016, p.7). The system needs to ensure that patients are in a position to receive safe, and secure healthcare within an environment that offers high quality services.
The proposed strategy was developed through an elaborate process that involves a review of publications and the literature from various organizations. A review of various industrial literature including case studies involving assessment of methodologies would also be conducted (Ireland, Wall & Cengage Learning (Firm) 2016, p.8). The development also covered the analysis of the existing international electronic health strategies, their deployment and implementation. Moreover, an analysis of the potential health benefits associated with the electronic health systems was also critical in the development of the strategy. Developers of the IT infrastructure need to focus on the provided information to create a set of best practices or guidelines that are applicable. The expertise to aid in the implementation of the strategy can be obtained from specialists that may also conduct peer reviews of the developed strategy.
The main motivation behind the introduction of the strategy is that it is an enabler that ensures health professionals deliver optimum healthcare. Experts believe that it can be integrated within the management of healthcare delivery processes (Dept 2015, p.6). EHR is considered a change catalyst that can be utilized to address some of the challenges that may have been realized in in developing healthcare models. There is a need to have a properly executed strategy and involve all the stakeholders while incorporating strong clinical engagements that are beneficial to the healthcare system.
The strategy has been tried elsewhere and has achieved significant results such as in Canada where it achieved over 400% gain against the government’s initial investment. The strategy is expected to introduce an interesting business model that has already shown excellent results despite the fact that it is still being developed (Films for the Humanities & Sciences (Firm), Films Media Group., & Information Television Network 2016, p.3). The IT infrastructure focuses on an open innovation ecosystem of concerned collaborators that have reported important findings regarding the developments realized in the healthcare sector. The journey of EHR is expected to generate positive results that would significantly improve the delivery of healthcare services in Ireland. The fact that there are fundamental health benefits associated with the introduction of the strategy calls for an elaborate implementation strategy for the IT infrastructure.
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When developing a proposal for this project, it is essential to elaborate the value associated with the processes of implementing the strategy. The proposal will include varied information regarding how the healthcare sector will gain from the implementation of the IT strategy (Clark 2014, p.4). Some of the steps that the stakeholders will need to follow when implementing the strategy include: Conducting an analysis of the gap that occurs between IT funding priority position and the main priorities of the Irish healthcare sector. The proposal will also include a statement that identifies specific vulnerabilities in the existing IT infrastructure.
The proposal should also include statements that indicate areas that the project is likely to realize benefits profitability especially the future projects. The proposal also needs to contain important information that also indicate important budget areas. The budget should be based on the requestor who also accountable for what happens in the specific area of the project. In addition, there should be forecast information and various IT exposures that highlight the specific areas that generate revenue for the healthcare sector (Oregon Health Authority 2012, p.8). This will also include information on how the new strategy will improve or risk the top sources of revenue. There is a need to highlight some of the expected benefits or the solutions that the strategy may bring to the sector.
EHR provides solutions that makes the new system over fifty times less costly than the traditional strategy. There is no doubt that economic benefit is achievable especially with significant investment that may be put in the health sector (Lerner et al. 2014, p.9). The implementation of the strategy is likely to lead to the creation of new electronic health markets that may also generate entrepreneurship opportunities. Ireland is in a perfect position to make substantial gains on the emerging markets because of the already strong base within the main healthcare industry. The strategy will lead to the integration of important pillars of the economy including medicine, financial services, Bio/and Pharma sectors.
Ireland stands to gain from the development of export oriented opportunities that can significantly improve the national GDP of the country. An analysis to establish the gains that can be achieved indicated about 2 to 2.9% is likely to be added to the national economy (Lerner et al. 2014, p.9). The strategy can also lead to the addition of highly skilled jobs in the economy if it is implemented well. The authorities need to see EHR as an infrastructural development and invest in it just as they would invest in other important infrastructural investments.
The new strategy is meant to develop a dependable healthcare strategy that appreciates user acceptance. There is a need to employ standards that can achieve various IT elements including portability, interoperability, healthcare, and data exchange in the information systems. There should also be compatibility of these standards with the Irish health system (Rahimi et al 2015, p.9). It is necessary to understand all the standards, codes, messaging systems, networks, health records that are compiled electronically, and electronic data interchange when implementing information systems. Some of these systems may be overlapping or may compete with other standards. The number of standards associated with health information systems have increased significantly over the last several years.
The EHR strategy needs to be utilized accordingly to ensure that it is effective and meets the requirements of the healthcare system in the Ireland. The issue of user acceptance is critical especially among the professionals that are expected to interact with the IT systems. This means that users need to utilize the computer systems that manage the electronic health records to enhance their efficiency (Rahimi et al. 2015, p.11). Although there might be an element of resistance among some of the workers, proper training may be employed to ensure that users understand the functionality of the systems.
Most professionals have been increasingly enthusiastic about the integration of Information Technology with health systems. However, their reception of the system has not be as positive because of the perception that EHR are could be costly and somewhat cumbersome. The estimates of the number of practitioners that have adopted EHR vary since it has been adopted at a slow rate. Much of the EHR systems that already exist in Ireland vary in sophistication and the new strategy seeks to create one with similar and consistent standards.
The main reason why the uptake of the EHR system is because of patient exclusion that was perfected in the past. The exclusion is evident in the way that they are not accorded a platform that they can record their personal information. There has not been sufficient awareness creation campaigns to sensitize people of the benefits of the EHR systems (Rahimi et al. 2015, p.11). In fact, the new strategy will involve persistent efforts to convince people to use the system especially those that are expected to interact with it directly. It is essential to consider the potential risks that may arise from archiving patient information and exposing it to the public. This will ensure that there is integrity in the handling of user information.
Most developed countries have committed substantial funds to the development of their country’s IT infrastructure. For instance, the United States once set aside over $19 billion to improve its healthcare IT system. The country achieved under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Rahimi et al. 2015, p.11). This was mainly meant to improve the electronic health records and implement new technologies seeking to reduce errors, ensure more privacy, save the lives of people and reduce the cost of treatment.
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Ireland can take advantage of the perceived benefits of the EHR technology and sensitize the people and healthcare practitioners that it is necessary to improve the healthcare system. This may be followed up a survey to investigate public perception regarding the adoption of the technology into the health system. Having information about patients makes provision of care among patients better because their entire medical history is accessible regardless of their geographical location (Allen 2004, p.7). The EHR strategy is expected to enhance the communication between health practitioners and the hospital especially in providing vital updates regarding patient’s treatment or care. Paper based records have been identified as one of the reasons the health systems have some inefficiencies. Consequently, implementing the strategy is likely to eliminate paper based transactions. This will also reduce chances of losing health records because everyone has access to the health records.
The EHR system is likely to eliminate possible life threatening situations that occur because of the absence of an effective EHR technology. Lacking an effective EHR may cause situations such as loss of medical records that can lead to use of medications that should be used on patients (EGOV (Conference), & In Janssen 2016, p.2). Without the system, a clinician is likely to omit important information about a patient’s illness such as allergies to certain drugs and medication. EHR systems create important safeguards that help eliminate dangerous scenarios that have are evident in their absence.
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