Healthcare News & Insights

How hospitals can avoid the dangers of new health IT

Hospital leaders are being pushed to integrate health IT to improve their operations and quality of care. But many facilities make this simple mistake which could lead to big consequences — never testing the technology first. 
166841988 (1)Recently, the healthcare industry has seen a lot of promotion about how things like new health apps, mobile health devices or big data projects can bolster a facility’s quality of care or patient satisfaction.

And although these health IT items have a lot of potential for positive outcomes, they also come with their fair share of challenges and pitfalls. As iHealthBeats reports, data from an eHealth Initiative survey shows that healthcare providers in Accountable Care Organizations are facing challenges implementing new health IT, such as:

IT staffing issues are especially worrisome since your facility will need a capable staff to mitigate the various problems that arise when you implement new technology.

The need for more tech testing

As Modern Healthcare explains, experts have found many hospitals see numerous adverse patient events after they’ve introduced new technology without analyzing how staff will interact and use the technology once it’s integrated into their operations.

Often, these events aren’t due to the technology itself but because of human-errors that occur when staff don’t properly understand the technology and its quirks. Often, vendors don’t consider this human factor in their testing, or how the technology will fare in high-pressure, real-world scenarios.

To make up for this deficiency, some facilities have created “human-factor research teams” to thoroughly test drive the technology before implementing it for wider use.

These teams perform tasks like:

  • testing new technologies by simulating how they’d be used in day-to-day tasks in controlled environments
  • identifying any technical issues
  • examining which circumstances have the most potential for human errors, and
  • developing clinical training guidelines to help educate other staff members.

Hospitals that want to create these kind of research teams should consider making them multi-disciplinary with various types of employees, not just IT employees. Having a variety of employees testing technology can offer better perspectives on what might go wrong in different circumstances.

Other health IT experts have recommended that, when adopting new technology, hospital leaders should:

  • ask questions about what kind of problem they want addressed and whether the new technology will fully resolve those issues
  • determine if the technology would improve quality of care for a reasonable expense — also consider what the cost or consequences might be if an adverse patient event occurs due to the technology
  • ensure their budget also includes resources for thorough training on new technology, and
  • reign in staff’s enthusiasm for new technology, by emphasizing caution and safety.

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