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Information Technology in the healthcare sector can save lives, time and money

category national | sci-tech | press release author Friday November 07, 2008 15:02author by Healthcare Informatics Society of Irelandauthor email kelli at ics dot ieauthor phone 016447848 Report this post to the editors

The Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland (HISI) spoke out today, in advance of their 13th Annual Conference, about the need to increase the confidence of political and management decision makers in using and investing in information and communication technology (ICT). HISI also identified the need to raise public awareness of how critical a role ICT plays in the current delivery of services. In today’s economic climate HISI stresses that technology is crucial to the drive for efficiencies and effectiveness within the sector because it underpins and supports the development of services.

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
6 November 2008

Information Technology in the healthcare sector can save lives, time and money

6 November 2008, Dublin - The Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland (HISI) spoke out today, in advance of their 13th Annual Conference, about the need to increase the confidence of political and management decision makers in using and investing in information and communication technology (ICT). HISI also identified the need to raise public awareness of how critical a role ICT plays in the current delivery of services. In today’s economic climate HISI stresses that technology is crucial to the drive for efficiencies and effectiveness within the sector because it underpins and supports the development of services.

“Everyone should be aware of the potential for information technology to improve Ireland’s health service, as it is recognised that its effective implementation is key to improving patient care and achieving service efficiencies,” commented Gerard Hurl, Chairman of HISI. “Despite the perceived lack of success of major projects in healthcare ICT, it is important that we understand the major reasons for such failures and take the appropriate steps to ensure that we utilise technology effectively and maximise its potential.”

At the simplest level, lack of success in utilising ICT is not because of the systems and the technology: “Failure occurs when there is an absence of understanding of what we expect ICT to deliver, a lack of planning to determine how we will use it, and a lack of commitment to deal with its impact,” explains Hurl. “Additionally, the identification of appropriate, dedicated resources for ICT implementation is crucial to success.”

Among the largest barriers to technology integration in the health sector today are tight budgets and perceived high costs. However, properly implemented information systems deliver positive return on investment while improving health services. Studies by PriceWaterhouseCoopers have demonstrated that adding more IT capital may be associated with reduced costs per bed even in same year analyses. In order for information systems to yield benefits, buy-in is needed from all involved, i.e. not just the software vendors or IT professionals, but also from the hospital staff who will implement them.

“Look at any other industry and immediately you can see how investing in technology has increased productivity and reduced costs. For example, many airlines now have automated check-in kiosks or online check-in; and banks have generated significant efficiencies through banking on line,” Hurl observed. “Technology has significantly improved other industries and now the health sector needs to take advantage of similar opportunities presented by ICT.”

Healthcare needs to make information technology an integral part of its day-to-day business. By embracing technology, hospitals can improve services while reducing costs and mitigating human error. The past year has seen several cases of patient misdiagnosis whereby cancer patients have been given the all clear and sent home. “When used correctly, information systems can alleviate human error in, for example, patient diagnosis and potential harmful drug interactions,” stated Hurl.

A major hospital in Dublin is a prime example of where new technology is improving services, putting patients at the heart of the clinical process since PACS and radiology information systems were implemented there. These systems archive x-ray images and link them up with the electronic ordering and tracking of pathology tests. By centralising patients’ clinical information, the systems ensure that doctors have all the information needed to make accurate diagnoses and determine appropriate treatment, thus reducing the likelihood of clinical error and patient risk.

Since the systems went live at the hospital in 2006, 8 million images have been stored and more than 48,000 patients have been examined over a 12 month period. Radiologists report that they are reviewing many more examinations than were ever possible with the old system, and lost film, which used to account for 20 percent, is now a thing of the past. As a result, these timesavings have enabled staff to increase the number of patients seen in weekly trauma clinics by fifty percent. In addition, the solution has reduced administrative burdens: cutting in half the number of phone calls to the microbiology lab from doctors and nurses chasing results. As well as saving hospital time, the system also improves the patient experience by ensuring that only necessary x-rays are performed and unnecessary appointments are avoided.

One the most critical issues in effective use of ICT in Healthcare is the availability of expertise. With fewer than 1000 dedicated ICT staff out of approximately 160,000 staff working in healthcare in Ireland, this lack of skilled resources is a critical inhibitor in ICT utilisation. As part of its mission to develop ICT skills within healthcare staff, at their annual conference this month, HISI will launch a registration system for Health Informatics Professionals. This will provide for all clinical professionals register in testimony to their adherence to competence standards, and to ethical and moral principles. The safety of patients relies on the information that supports clinical decision-making and therefore on the people who manage it. I-CHIP, (Irish Council for Health Informatics Professions) will promote a voluntary register of HI professionals to provide members with a recognised framework for professional recognition and development.

HISI will be hosting its 13th Annual Conference and Scientific Symposium on the 19th and 20th November at the Stillorgan Park Hotel in Dublin. The conference will feature a wide range of workshops, seminars and presentations and will focus on the innovative use of Healthcare Informatics to drive efficiencies and improvements in healthcare. Presentations will cover some of the many successful implementations of healthcare related IT systems in Ireland and abroad and also consider new developments in technology.

----ends----

Note to editor:
HISI is affiliated to the Irish Computer Society and incorporates the Healthcare Informatics section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland and is concerned with promoting, supporting and developing the skills and knowledge base in health informatics in Ireland. There are currently 719 HISI members, drawn from information technology, medicine, nursing and other profession allied to medicine including education, government and industry. For further information, visit www.hisi.ie.

Press contact:

Kelli Marjolet, Marketing & Communications Officer, Irish Computer Society
Ph: 01 6447848 / 087 9690041 email: kelli@ics.ie

Related Link: http://www.hisi.ie/
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