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To quantify the economic and productivity impact of the continued use of outdated communication technologies in health care, the Ponemon Institute and health care IT security company Imprivata recently surveyed 577 health care professionals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.
Click through for an economic and productivity impact survey focused on IT security in the health care industry, conducted by Imprivata and the Ponemon Institute.
Clinicians waste an average of about 46 minutes each day due to the use of outdated communications technologies.
The Ponemon study found that clinicians waste around 46 minutes every day using outdated communications technologies. The primary reason is the inefficiency of pagers (as cited by 52 percent of survey respondents), followed by the lack of Wi-Fi availability (39 percent), the inadequacy of email (38 percent) and the inability to use text messaging (36 percent).
Clinicians spend just 45 percent of their time interacting with patients.
During a time when the patient population is growing drastically, Americans would expect that physicians are spending the majority of their day dealing directly with patients. However, the survey reveals that physicians are only spending 27 minutes per hour with patients. The rest of their day is spent collaborating with colleagues and trying to use clinical IT systems such as electronic medical records.
Inefficient technologies cost the U.S. hospital industry more than $5.1 billion every year.
The Ponemon Institute estimates that this waste of clinicians’ time costs each U.S. hospital nearly $1 million annually. Based on the number of registered hospitals in the U.S., this translates to a loss of more than $5.1 billion each year across the health care industry.
Discharge time averages more than 100 minutes per patient.
Deficiencies in communications have also proven to lengthen patient discharge time, which currently average more than 100 minutes. About 37 minutes of this time is wasted waiting for doctors, specialists or others to respond with information necessary for the patient’s release.
Secure text messaging can cut discharge time by about 50 minutes.
Sixty-five percent of survey respondents believe that using secure text messaging could cut patient discharge time in half. However, in an industry where security is a top concern, the majority of clinicians still do not have the luxury of utilizing this communications tool.
The idle time during the discharge process costs the U.S. hospital industry more than $3.1 billion annually in lost revenue.
The Ponemon Institute estimates that the additional 50 minutes of idle time added to patient discharge caused by the inability to use secure text messaging costs each U.S. hospital more than $550,000 in lost revenue annually. Based on the number of registered hospitals in the U.S., this translates to more than $3.1 billion in revenue lost every year across the industry.
HIPAA compliance requirements create a barrier to providing effective patient care.
More than half of the survey respondents felt that HIPAA compliance requirements can be a barrier to providing effective patient care. Specifically, HIPAA reduces time available for patient care (according to 85 percent of respondents), makes access to electronic patient information difficult (79 percent) and restricts the use of electronic communications (56 percent).