Top 3 Ways to Raise Efficiency and Lower Costs for Medical Facilities With Health IT

By Sean Westbrook, Content Specialist, True North ITG
Twitter: @truenorthitg

One of the biggest challenges faced in the medical field today are the rapidly climbing costs. As a result, it’s vital to take opportunities where they’re available to raise efficiency and reduce unnecessary costs. With a rapidly aging population, now more than ever it is vital to become as efficient as possible.

Reduce Redundancy
A great way to do that is to perform a software audit. This is the process of gathering invoices for every single piece of software that you’re using and then determining whether or not it’s getting proper use to justify the cost. Once you’ve gathered all the information about which products you actually pay for, go through the list with your staff and verify that each and every item is currently in use.

Ensure that your staff are aware of every piece of software’s features and that they are being actively used. It is possible that you’re paying for a specific feature that you’ve assumed the staff are using, when in reality it is either barely used or not used at all. This could be simply due to a lack of awareness by staff or it could be that there is no need for that tool.

Wherever possible, you should try to verify that there isn’t a more efficient method for finding a solution. For instance, if a piece of software creates an addon that can replace another piece of software and it does the job for less, you should switch.

A very common issue is that of overlapping software. Many products offer secondary services meant to broaden their appeal, when really these other services can easily replace entire other solutions you’re paying for.

Manage Your Waste
Organizations, both big and small, always create waste. Whether its leaving money on the table or through inefficient use of resources this happens all the time. This is no different in healthcare. There are many obvious and hidden costs in the healthcare industry which they can manage through the use of HIT.

One of the biggest wasted resources in the medical field is time. When you go to a doctor’s office, they are seldom on schedule. This involves a lot of waiting, which in turn means extra costs to accommodate that waiting period.

With the use of simple booking software, patients could be kept abreast of the current wait time, meaning that they could wait nearby, or plan their travel accordingly. By pushing for widescale adoption of this policy, you could completely eliminate the need for a waiting room at doctor’s offices.

Many key players in the healthcare industry are slow to adopt HIT. As a result, there is still widespread use of paper records. This is wasteful on several fronts. Firstly, there is the cost of the paper. While individual sheets of paper are extremely cheap, the overall cost the medical industry spends on paper is not insubstantial. Having digital healthcare records removes that cost.

There is also the time lost due to searching for records or needing to have pertinent information sent from a previous doctor that is incurred whenever you go to a different physician. Finally, there is the risk of loss of information. With a paper record, information can easily be misplaced or accidentally destroyed. This leads to completely avoidable costs.

Increase Security
You may be asking yourself, why increase security? How will that lower my costs? The answer is quite straightforward. The medical field is one of the top target for hackers and, as a result, it is merely a matter of time before many healthcare organizations are targeted. As a result, investing in increased security is a great way to reduce the potential costs you pay in the future.

The primary reason why healthcare sectors are targeted is because they use generally very outdated software on older devices. This technology is inherently less secure than newer systems with more robust defenses.

Hackers are sadly quite motivated by the prospects of getting sensitive healthcare information. They can get confidential data, employer data, private medical records, and a variety of other personal information. In addition, a successful hacking could result in ransomware being inserted into your system.

Any information they glean from this attack they can sell to the highest bidder. Because of the sensitive nature of the information, it is absolutely vital that this not occur.

With the rise of HIT within the industry comes the need to securely communicate. Many patients’ records are now digitally accessible by different physicians or even entirely different organizations. As a result, there is a need for an effective risk management plan to mitigate potential issues.

There are a few different elements that make for a strong HIT security strategy. Firstly, you should integrate security systems within the technology and network from the beginning. This is due to the now interconnected nature of modern technology.

You should also invest in an IT security team, as they’ll be able to handle much of the security concerns, and can do so remotely on a contract basis, saving you money.

HIT is a powerful new source of innovation within the medical field. It can create many different benefits that allow for better, more comprehensive patient care. There has historically been a lot of inefficiencies that, with the new tools it allows for, can now be fixed. HIT also opens up a new ease of use when using different physicians. The medical field can save a lot of money by gaining the value that HIT provides.