The cost of delivering care continues to climb exponentially and healthcare organizations are now challenged with meeting patient expectations for the best possible care while controlling costs. All healthcare processes, whether internal or external, ultimately affect the quality of the patient’s care experience. Healthcare providers face growing pressure to optimize clinical and business systems and improve patient satisfaction.
The virtual explosion of costs in the healthcare sector has affected all of those involved, from private payers to the government, hospitals, individual care providers and patients. But despite rising costs, hospital budgets have remained more or less the same. The resulting challenge is that today’s healthcare organizations must minimize their costs and maximize their efficiency.
Specific pressures impacting healthcare providers include:
- Deployment of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic services that are more effective, but also more expensive.
- Regulatory requirements that impose financial and managerial burdens.
- Patient privacy systems that are both costly and difficult to implement.
Faced with an ever-increasing number of challenges, healthcare executives globally share a common question: “How can I enhance quality and productivity while improving my bottom line?”
The answer lies in process optimization and integration. In a healthcare organization where non-interoperable systems are in place, clinical and administrative processes can be cumbersome and slow. When processes are integrated, the healthcare organization can boost productivity, improve patient care and reduce costs. Often considered one of the most difficult challenges for any healthcare organization, linking patient diagnosis, therapy and care processes with administrative processes across the healthcare continuum has become a key goal.
The implementation of such worldclass technologies across a healthcare organization can result in immediate and positive returns. Physicians and other clinicians in an environment in which systems and processes are integrated into a workflow-driven approach, for instance, spend fewer hours on administrative tasks and therefore are better able to concentrate on their core activity, patient care.
The industry agrees on the value that an integrated healthcare information system can bring, improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare while reducing costs.
Integrating healthcare IT systems can:
- Increase the quality of patient care and physician-patient interaction, ultimately improving the satisfaction of all.
- Reduce cycle times for many clinical and administrative processes across the organization.
- Improve collaboration and exchange of data between clinical and administrative departments.
- Reduce medication and documentation errors and their associated costs.
- Create financial transparency.
- Support regulatory compliance.
- Help protect the privacy of patient information.
In an effort to achieve such efficiencies, many healthcare organizations will upgrade their information
systems in 2005. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate that U.S. hospitals alone will spend more than 15 billion Dollar in 2005 on IT. That number will rise to more than 21 billion Dollar by 2012, not taking into account the forecasted expenditures by healthcare providers globally such as in Japan and Germany, which have major initiatives underway.
But, even though healthcare IT spending is on the rise, the fact remains that the IT landscape in many hospitals today is not optimally integrated. Budget constraints and the complexity of deploying new systems have resulted in a mix of disparate systems with and update.
Many healthcare organizations find it challenging to adapt to industry changes and embrace new clinical innovations in part because of the barriers created by the collections of disparate information systems. Those organizations choosing the rapid innovation of advanced IT systems will have a competitive advantage in the healthcare marketplace of the future.