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Migration Nation

October 1, 2006
by root
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Clinical workflow takes priority as organizations improve processes with technology.

Improvements in data management processes for patient- and clinician-centric information are on the agendas, and in the budgets, of an overwhelming number of provider organizations, according to the results of a Healthcare Informatics online survey conducted in August.

Across all provider categories, satisfaction levels with current methods of collecting, managing and storing patient information showed a wide range. Nearly one-third were somewhat or completely dissatisfied with current practices while slightly more than half say they're satisfied. Nonetheless, 85 percent report that their organizations are considering improvements in clinical workflows and increasing digitization of patient information.

Data States

Across all types of care environments, use of electronic tools is gradually supplanting paper for data capture and storage needs in a broad variety of data categories. Patient demographic information topped the list with a majority of respondents — 75 percent —saying they use electronic tools to manage this type information. However, across all categories, manual data entry, as opposed to automated input, continues to be the data capture feed for digitally available information.

A major challenge for providers is staunching the continued influx of paper into providers' offices and work spaces. More than two-thirds of panelists report clinically related and paper-based documents coming from outside their domain are a major challenge, particularly as they struggle to move their organizations onto electronic platforms.

Somewhat less imperative are management initiatives for practitioner and administrative data. Although most are somewhat satisfied with current operations in both categories, nearly two-thirds say their organizations are considering improvement measures.

For information important to clinicians, 72 percent of respondents say test results at their institution resides in some type of electronic format — making patient test results the leading category with the highest percentage of data available digitally. Only 15 percent of this group reports manual data entry for this type of data, reflecting increasing automation with expanded use of laboratory to clinical record interfaces.

Providers report using a broad mix of hardware to support and network patient- and physician-centric applications. Although respondents say essential computing hardware including PCs and laptops, network servers and display monitors are most in use at this time, the hardware under consideration for future use clearly supports the growing trend of mobile and point-of-care computing capabilities. Bar code scanners are a leading priority. But tablet PCs, network-connected patient monitoring devices, handheld devices such as PDAs, touch screen displays, smart cards and ID chips are also on strategic planning agendas.