Monday, October 1, 2012

Supply Chain and Health IT

One of the articles for this week discussed the usage and importance of IT and supply chain.  Health IT is a booming industry as many hospitals and providers are switching over from pen and paper to using the latest technology, such as electronic medical records EMRs.  These EMRs provide crucial patient data that assists a practitioner with making a diagnosis or proceeding with a treatment plan.  I'd like to view healthcare services as a supply chain because there are so many different players, equipment, and resources that go into treating one patient.  For example, let's say that a patient comes in for a scheduled surgery for his left leg.  The nurses will look at the EMR to determine when the patient will be having the surgery to put it on the schedule.  Another nurse will take that information plus information about the surgery to prepare the operating room with the right equipment for the surgery.  A receptionist needs to look at the patient information and scheduling information to determine which room to send the patient has he arrives.  The anesthesiologist needs to read the vitals taken by the nurse to make sure that he is administering the correct amount of medication.  Finally, the surgeon needs to look at all of the information on the EMR to make sure he is performing the right surgery, at the right time, in the right room, with the correct equipment on the correct leg.  As you can see, accuracy is extremely important at all stages of this surgery as each part contributes to the supply chain of the surgery.  The usage of Health IT and EMRs increases the accuracy of the patient information because it prevents the misreading of sloppy handwriting and difficulty locating any sections of the patient charts.  Because it is also an electronic record, there can be multiple practitioners viewing the patient record at the same time, which would allow the scrub nurse to prep the operating room with the correct equipment while the receptionist is directing the patient to the right room.  The accuracy of these records is crucial in providing high quality of care to patients from all individuals involved in the supply chain.  Health IT is constantly changing and improving and it is interesting to stop and wonder, how can we further improve healthcare and the supply chain of care provided with further developments in Health IT?  Will healthcare in the future be solely relient on technology?  Many people are trying to figure that out and has been the a constant competition of who can develop a better supply chain with the newest Health IT tools.  Regardless of what happens in the future, it is reassuring to know that there are efforts being made to improve healthcare delivery through the development and implementation of new processes.

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