Based upon a survey of 200 IT professionals and more than 200 caregivers at large hospitals, a new CDW Healthcare report finds that 84 percent of caregivers feel that patient care is improved by using healthcare information technologies. Further, healthcare IT solutions are getting better. Caregivers rate systems installed during the last 18 months as more useful in patient care (43 percent) and more able to deliver the information that they need (34 percent).
Not surprisingly, doctors and nurses cite the availability of better information (85 percent), the accuracy of care delivered to patients (72 percent), and the ability to track follow up care (68 percent) as the top benefits. Historically, healthcare IT has been viewed as a tool for delivering better information at the point of patient care. But with the recent advancements in systems and applications, nearly 40 percent of respondents also see healthcare IT as enabling them to spend more time with patients.
At the same time, the data reveals that the advantages to caregivers diminish when the investment in endpoint solutions grows out of balance with needed infrastructure requirements. Caregivers in hospitals adding four or more new endpoint systems during the last 18 months see fewer benefits and experience the solutions as slower, less available and ultimately less valuable in patient care.
Some cases create more concerns than others. For example, four percent of hospitals deploying an EHR in the last 18 months added no additional storage capacity and 11 percent invested in no additional IT security. Ten percent of hospitals opened their networks to patients and visitors without adding any wireless network capacity. Without supporting infrastructure, the likelihood of system slow down or unavailability increases, reducing the overall value in delivering patient care.
“As a report card on the performance of IT departments at large hospitals, this is a solid A,” said Bob Rossi, vice president of CDW Healthcare. “That said, the survey results also demonstrate how out-of-balance systems can result in user frustration and wasted time.”
Without question, maintaining a balance between caregiver systems and supporting IT infrastructure can be exceptionally difficult. IT departments typically build out the necessary infrastructure only after a number of caregiver complaints and concerns. Seventy-eight percent of healthcare IT professionals admit to lagging infrastructure investments in response to complaints. Of those, 58 percent own up to doing it more than once, while 10 percent confess to pursuing this approach frequently.
Going forward, hospital IT infrastructure is likely to continue experiencing an increasing crunch. More data-intensive clinical tools are going digital, more mobile devices (employee, patient and visitor) consume wireless bandwidth and more owned and affiliated physician practices are joining hospital networks. Healthcare IT professionals need to maintain a careful balance between infrastructure and the client systems coming into the network, so caregivers are able to take full advantage of the best IT tools for patient care.
CDW Healthcare conducted a survey of 202 doctor and nurse respondents, as well as 200 healthcare IT professionals from hospitals with more than 200 beds between January 9 and January 23.
A full copy of CDW Healthcare’s Healthcare IT Tipping Point Report is available at http://www.cdw.com/