The recent changes in technology has affected and transformed almost every sectors of the economy and the health sector has not been left behind. With the formulation of new laws in health care, federal law now requires all health care providers to move from manual systems to electronic systems in the management of health information. The health care providers are now in the process of acquiring new technological tools and moving to electronic health systems. However, this has not come without its challenges. This paper highlights the challenges that I believe the health care providers face in implementing electronic health care systems in their emergency room.
It is a fact that the advancement in technology has facilitated improvement in the functioning of health care and the health care providers are now able to provide better services to their clients with the use electronic tools. However, the adoption of such tools is posing technological and human challenges to health providers as well as the patients they serve (Hunt & Sproat, 2004). In this paper I address the challenges related to the adoption of electronic health records in emergency room and suggest the solutions available to healthcare providers.
First, I agree with Amatayakul & Lazarus (2005) that some health care providers may not have the capacity to acquire expensive electronic equipments that might be needed because of their limited resources. In addition, emergency rooms require tools that are robust and functional with 100% accuracy because the department deals with saving human life. Failure in the functionality of such tools can sometimes lead to loss of life. As such, the department rooms will need to have extra equipments in place to ensure that if one fails, the other can be put in place to continue serving the patient (Ball & Douglas (2009).
Secondly, I believe the issue of information sharing and confidentiality will also rise up since electronic tools and systems may allow sharing of confidential information from emergency room. The possible solution to this challenge is to put more emphasis on the issues of privacy and security of information in the emergency room by giving health care managers a more enhanced role to ensure that the information in emergency room is protected and secured.
Factors that promote Adoption in Emergency Rooms
I believe that the adoption of electronic tools in emergency rooms is necessitated by the need to reduce medication related errors in emergency departments, that toimprove clinical documentation as well as decision making in emergency rooms (Bonnel & Smith, 2010). Telehealth or telemedicine advancement in the provision of medical services also contributes to the need for different health care providers to adopt electronic tools that will facilitate this service. Additionally, I share in the observation that health care providers are now sharing information of different medical situations at higher levels than before and the use of electronic tools is facilitating this process well (Zaccagnini & White, 2010).
Most health care units lack on site support and thus emergency room department will need to acquire expertise to give support to the nurses and doctors who work in emergency rooms (Handler et al, 2003). I therefore agree with Thomas (2006), that an alternative solution is to train doctors and nurses on how to operate electronic health tools and records to maintain efficiency of service.
The is also a possibility that electronic health management tools will also pose ethical challenges to doctors and nurses since it will influence the disclosure because it will hasten the level at which people can access information (Thielst, 2007). I believe that the solution to this challenge is to have separate electronic tools for emergency rooms that allow only particular information to be shared with other department. An example in this case is a system that allows sharing information with the pharmacy department but not with billing department since this information is not relevant to that department. Moreover, shared information should only be relevant to the pharmacy department. This will eliminate unauthorized access to personal information (McKinney, 2009).
Specific Steps for Adoption of Electronic Health Records
I also propose that the management of health care institutions may adopt EHRs by identifying and recognizing the need to have such records in their institutions (Walker, Bieber & Richards, 2006). Such needs include efficiency, privacy, and security issues in their services. An evaluation of available resources including capital and human expertise should then be carried to ascertain the feasibility of adopting such records (Gartee, 2011). Finally, I agree that the need to conform to regulations by the government should also be considered before shopping for electronic systems that are going to serve the identified needs (Busch, 2008). Acquisition and adoption of the EHRs will follow after training the staff on how to handle those tools.
EHRs are important in ensuring efficiency in the delivery of services in health institutions. They also ensure that healthcare institutions can control the access of medical information by both the patients and healthcare providers. Proper addressing of the challenges associated with the adoption of EHRs will therefore ensure that the health sector benefits from the use of electronic systems in their service.