Information technology has always played an influential role in the development of different sectors from manufacturing, education, health, and transportation. Information technology is broadly termed as the use of various digital technologies such as computers, telecommunication, and other digital technologies to send, retrieve, and store information.
Healthcare information technology is referred to as the use of innovative and modern technology systems and processes to manage health-related information. Healthcare information is of utmost importance for patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies. Traditionally, information and the data of medical practice was done through paper records, but gradually, technology integration became a necessity to keep up with the pace and streamline the healthcare services.
Why Healthcare Industry relies on Information Technology
Today, the dynamics of the healthcare sector as well as most businesses have been severely affected due to the Coronavirus pandemic and it has led to the closure of many industries which forced people to stay indoors and practice social distancing. During these challenging times, businesses and medical practices have been innovative in supporting remote work which allowed people to continue doing business by using "information technology" that included fast internet connectivity through 4G and 5G networks and custom-designed digital software and applications.
In the healthcare sector, information technology has played a crucial role in providing a central database to manage patient data in the form of Electronic Health Records (EHR) and modern software that helps to simplify medical billing and coding and streamline the financial revenue cycle. The reasons for information technology integration in medical practice are:
- Assists medical practice to access accurate and actionable data that can easily be customized to suit particular healthcare needs.
- Allow healthcare professionals to access important patient details from medical history, diagnosis, and previous treatment and then make an informed decision
- The fast decision making reduces the health-related risks that can impact patients’ health
- Improve the appointment scheduling, insurance verification, coding, and billing procedure
According to numerous studies and surveys, clinical errors are one of the leading factors that impacts the management of a patient's diagnosis and treatment, and the impact directly affects the credibility for the patient's care plan. More than 50% of medical claims are rejected and denied by the insurance companies due to coding or billing errors. A rejected claim is a critical mistake to a medical practices revenue cycle management by the void of payment for services rendered.
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The Growing Need for using Information Technology in Healthcare System
Fortunately, there has been a marked reduction in diagnosis, coding, and billing errors with the installation and integration of custom medical software solutions. The conventional means of getting patient data was filling paper document manually, which can be quite a time consuming and tiring task, particularly if a medical practice often sees an increased number of patients.
The patients coming to get immediate care also had to painstakingly wait for the insurance verification and provide details regarding their personal information, medical history, insurance plan, and previous treatments. With the help of custom-built software, now the hospital staff can easily input the patient details and check insurance eligibility at the time of scheduling an appointment, which saves considerable time.
The patients’ details are entered once, and a patient does not have to provide details in every visit to the medical practice. The computerized entry minimizes the inpatient processing errors, and information also gets updated to EHR and is accessible to doctors and physicians who can take quick and informed decisions.
The key aspect of a medical claim is the selection of correct medical codes based on the diagnosis, testing, and treatment. The medical codes consist of different codes such as ICD (International Statistical Classification of Diseases) codes, CPT (Current Procedure Terminology) codes, HCPCS (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System).
The medical billing and revenue cycle management software is developed according to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations, protecting sensitive and confidential patient data. HIPAA compliance ensures the safe and legal use of technology in managing information in the healthcare industry.
The Advantages of Healthcare Information Technology
Traditionally a medical coder has to keep in mind hundreds of different codes, which can be complicated with complex drug names and the addition of different codes. The Covid-19 outbreak also brought different codes based on diagnosis, testing, and treatment. Installing modern medical billing software means that all the medical codes are updated regularly, and there will be less risk of medical claim rejection due to the selection of incorrect codes.
The advantages of information technology in healthcare are
- Detailed and accurate information
- Customized care and treatment plans for the patients
- Improved and fast communication between healthcare practitioners and patients
- Clear and safe medical record of patients
- Easy access to patient record through a central database
- Reduced costs as correct codes are selected and accurate medical claims are submitted
The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the healthcare sector, and relaxation in government rules and regulations has led to massive integration and implementation of digital technology. The future of healthcare depends on the accuracy and use of virtual healthcare management solutions and telehealth.
People with acute or chronic symptoms tend to stay at home trying to prevent getting infected with novel Coronavirus, which has increased the importance of telehealth and virtual health management. Medical applications have also allowed people to use their smartphones to check for symptoms, schedule an appointment, and track payments.
Digital technology has several elements that can help to increase the awareness of Covid-19 and help people feel safe and share information quickly. Surveys can be generated and filled by patients and healthcare providers to gather valuable data and help initiate policies and strategies regarding symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention from the Covid-19 virus.
Covid-19 patients are given priority in hospitals and medical practices, but there are patients suffering from other chronic diseases that may need urgent and utmost care. An innovative patient information system can be developed and integrated to help a medical practice identify the patients who are vulnerable and require emergency care or surgical procedure. Medical practices have started telemedicine consultation, which is an effective method to inform the patients about their illnesses and prevent them from visiting the hospitals.
With numerous highs and lows throughout the year, the threat of Covid-19 still looms at large, and there is genuine concern among the local population on the treatment and prevention of the virus. The news of potential vaccines has given hope to the medical community and people, but still, the vaccine is in the clinical testing stage, and it would be some time before people can properly get vaccinations. In the meantime, advancements in digital technology can help hospitals and medical practices to streamline management tasks and ensure the delivery of the best healthcare services to the patients.