The healthcare industry is, and has been, behind the curve when it comes to understanding the connection between information technology (IT) and patient care. That is, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are not optimizing technologies that can lead to improvements that support the patient experience In fact, doctors and nurses are not even apprised of the benefits that IT can bring to their organizations and patients. As patient care, rightfully, is a top priority at healthcare facilities, this disconnect continues to undermine the industry as a whole.

For any industry to remain vital in this day and age, modern technology—with all its benefits—must be integrated into systems and networks. Toward this end, CIO.com created the CSC Hierarchy of Healthcare IT to illustrate how parts of the healthcare infrastructure each build off one another. Buried in the middle of the hierarchy pyramid are electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchange. Both play an instrumental role in providing doctors with critical patient information.

In order for IT to become a more integral aspect of healthcare, doctors and facilities will have to adopt EHRs, bring their systems up to date, and implement a network for proper information exchange.

Below, we expound on this to-do list of what healthcare providers must do to garner more benefits from available technologies.

Transition to EHRs: Patient demographics, progress notes and vital signs are just a few examples of the data that is collected through EHRs. By implementing EHRs, a clinician’s workflow is effectively streamlined. Furthermore, EHRs can generate a history of patient interactions and provide evidence-based decision support and quality management. EHR systems can cost upward of $50,000 to install and operate, and doctors complain that the use of EHRs reduces their time spent with patients, since they take time to fill out. The frustration that doctors and health providers feel plays a role in the lack of understanding of technology’s role in healthcare. However, the facilities that do utilize EHRs are garnering their doctor’s greater insight into pertinent patient data with research-based solutions.

Install a proper information exchange system: The collection of data is important, but what enables EHRs to be so useful is their ability to share data with other connected devices such as tablets and smartphones, patient wearables and machines used for medical testing. Wearables attached to patients can record data, such as vital signs, which can be transferred to a doctor’s mobile device. Another scenario of importance is real-time health alerts. For example, consider a patient receiving an MRI test. If the machine were to detect a serious abnormality, it could send an alert to the doctor, immediately notifying him or her of the situation. The doctor could then begin to build a case around this patient. A service meant for information exchange could assist the doctor by allowing him or her ability to share that file with all those involved in the case. Other doctors can add to the file, share test results and schedule meetings all on one platform. This sort of access isn’t just convenient, it saves doctors time as they can all collaborate from anywhere, at anytime on one connected platform.

With the use of EHRs and information exchange systems, doctors and healthcare providers can begin to experience the benefits of today’s technology solutions. This should alleviate the disconnect doctors and other healthcare personnel feel concerning IT in healthcare, opening the door to a myriad of helpful technologies. The aim of the CSC Hierarchy is to build up to optimal patient engagement and IT is the foundation for this transformation. Without it, healthcare providers can’t put forth their best efforts to battle illness.

To learn more about how AAJ can help enterprises deploy services that can help streamline a doctors workflow by supporting information exchange, click here.