The transition from paper-based to electronic medical records continues to create challenges for the health care industry. While the implementation of new technologies is designed to improve efficiency and enhance patient care, it also has the potential to introduce risk. IT departments must ensure that these new systems meet security and regulatory compliance requirements to keep private information protected.
In practice, security, compliance and privacy requirements often create barriers to technology adoption, which sacrifices convenience and productivity, frustrates caregivers and, ultimately, detracts from patient care. For instance, clinicians are typically prohibited from using smartphones, text messaging and other modern forms of communication due to the perceived security risks. As a result, the use of pagers and other outmoded technologies continues as the status quo.
To quantify the economic and productivity impact of the continued use of outdated communication technologies in health care, the Ponemon Institute and health care IT security company Imprivata recently surveyed 577 health care professionals for a report titled “The Economic and Productivity Impact of IT Security on Healthcare.” Overwhelmingly, respondents agreed that communications tools currently in use decrease productivity, increase patient discharge time and limit the time doctors have to spend with patients, collectively costing U.S. hospitals more than $8.3 billion annually. Dr. Sean Kelly, chief medical officer at Imprivata and physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, dissects the key findings of the Ponemon study and why U.S. hospitals are continuing to lose billions every year.
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