Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Healthcare and Increased Productivity

I enjoyed this week’s readings, namely the McKinsey & Company Special Report “What happens next?” In Crucible 2, some mention is given to the health care industry and how it is “an arena where do-it-smarter businesses will thrive.” [1] This is becoming increasingly more important as policies like Meaningful Use and the new health care legislation take shape. For so long, the health care sector has grown to meet increasing demand and keep up with new technologies in the form of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and diagnostic tools. Now, the focus needs to expand to technologies in information collection and sharing.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has developed a system in which to evaluate hospitals as they progress to paperless facilities. As hospitals begin to implement Electronic Medical Record systems (EMRs), they move through seven different stages, the first level representing the lowest level of EMR adoption and the seventh representing the highest and most comprehensive EMR implementation. To date, there are only 66 hospitals, of over 5,000 nationwide, which have reached the HIMSS level 7 status. [2] That means that roughly 1.1 percent of our nation’s hospitals are fully equipped with EMR systems. The national average lies around a HIMSS level 3, where only a small portion of clinical documentation is paperless.
This information ties into what is mentioned in Crucible 2 regarding how hospitals spend on average 20 percent of what financial services organizations do on IT initiatives. [1] Obviously, hospitals function completely different than financial organizations and most are nonprofit institutions. Although larger health systems tend to bring in a large amount of revenue, many small community hospitals are operating at a loss. All hospitals simply cannot afford to fully implement pricey EMR systems, and must do so in a more piecemeal method over a longer time period.
It is interesting to look at the EMR example and hospitals in general when discussing productivity. Healthcare often trails behind other industries when it comes to business processes and information flow, but it is quickly expanding its focus. Also, healthcare is becoming more of a global industry. Information held within an EMR will allow for sharing of a patient’s medical history between his or her home hospital and a hospital they are visiting as they are away for business. By creating a more efficient information flow process at hospitals, we can increase hospital productivity by spending more time on the patient’s case and less time searching for necessary information or collecting information that was already documented by another hospital.

[1] Bisson, Peter, Rik Kirkland, Elizabeth Stephenson, and Patrick Viguerie. What Happens Next? Five crucibles of innovation that will shape the coming decade. McKinsey & Company, 2010. Print.

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