Major initiatives associated with Healthcare reforms and their impact
Electronic health records
A number of healthcare facilities have initiated the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR) in a bid to enhance efficiency, save costs, and enhance patient satisfaction. The EHR allows all the patient information to be available in the hospital’s information systems. The initiative enhances efficiency as physicians can access the patients’ current and historical records, leading to better decision making on treatment options for the patient. EHR also enables the health care facility to save costs as it uses less paper and less manpower needed to record and maintain patient information. Thirdly EHR enhances patient satisfaction as patients can access their medical records, and they therefore play an active role in the determination of the best treatment for their health conditions.
Telemedicine and telehealth are among the emerging health care trends that have been implemented by health care facilities. The adoption of telehealth came about due to the increasing health care needs of the population as hospitals would be bombarded by patients, some of whom only required consultation services or uncomplicated treatment. As a result, telehealth was adopted to enhance efficiency in the health care sector. The emergence of EHR and its adoption by health care facilities also contributed towards the growth of telehealth as physicians would easily access a patient’s records. Telehealth boosts hospital revenue as the hospital can cater for a larger number of patients without having to engage in major capital investments.
The health care facility need not acquire additional building facilities as medical care is provided remotely. Telemedicine is also a favorable alternative for patients who cannot access the health care facility due to logistics reasons. Patients with busy schedules may still continue liaising with the health care facility in the management of their health care conditions without having to disrupt their schedules or end their treatment schedules. Some of the healthcare conditions that are conducted via telehealth options include diabetes, hypertension, depression, and other health care conditions requiring regular consultations.
Mergers and Consolidation
Hospital organizations have joined forces in order to beat competition, improve market share, and extend product and service diversification. Beginning with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, hospitals realized that their revenues were negatively impacted, especially due to having arrangements with HMOs. The HMOs would pay standard rates per patient, regardless of the cost incurred by individual patients. As a result, health care organizations struggled to accrue profitability as their costs outweighed their revenues. For this reason, a number of large hospital organizations merged so as to benefit from economies of scale. Another reason for merging is to gain access into other markets. For instance, a large healthcare organization may acquire other smaller hospitals so as to gain access into the smaller hospital’s market.
Challenges associated with each trend and ways to overcome them
The challenge associated with the implementation of EHR systems is that they are expensive to implement as they require large capital investments. Healthcare organizations have to ensure that their existing information systems will integrate with the new HER systems. In many cases, health care facilities have to change their existing system in case of incompatibility.
Additionally, the facilities have to undertake training initiatives in order to equip the staff with adequate skills in using the EHR. However, health care facilities can still manage to implement EHR without using large amounts of money by launching the project in stages. Doing so would entail careful planning where each unit would be allocated a specific time frame for the implementation of EHR, therefore allowing the organization to allocate manageable resource over a long period of time as opposed to investing a one-off payment into the project.
The tele health initiative faces the challenge of misdiagnosing patients. In contrast to having face to face meetings with patients where physicians can be able to examine and accurately diagnose patients, telehealth systems do not have that option as the physician cannot effectively diagnose patients. Thus, the delivery of care may be impeded by misdiagnosis. In addition, tele medicine cannot be applied to all medical conditions, especially those that involve chronic and behavioral illnesses.
Therefore, it is not a holistic solution for all health care conditions. Despite its shortcomings, healthcare organizations can still initiate tele health by implementing best practices such as the requirement that patients should first visit the hospital facility so that they can be physically checked by physicians before commencing treatment through tele health. This way the margin of error can be reduced significantly, as physicians may have carried out adequate physical examinations on patients.
The consolidation of healthcare organizations is problematic due to differences in culture. The merging of two or more organizations creates challenges if their organizational cultures are different. In most cases, smaller health care organizations that are acquired by bigger facilities are expected to adapt to the culture of their parent organization. As a result, employee performance may become negatively affected due to poor morale. In addition, power struggles may appear between leaders from both organizations if they feel that the other organization is being unfair on power sharing.
However, the differences in culture should be ironed out before the merging process takes place. Instead, a multicultural environment should be created so that the needs of all employees are met. Nonetheless, it would be impossible to please all parties, and therefore, negotiations should take place in determining the best practices to adopt. The roles of all organizational leaders should be carefully examined and stated so as to avoid role-conflict. This way, each leader will be aware of their role in the organization, a factor that will result in less conflict among the leaders.
Impact of EHR on leadership, governance, and role of a healthcare CIO
The implementation of EHR requires strong leadership as the system has to be integrated within the whole organization. Therefore, the management has to allocate adequate resources for its implementation to cater for the acquisition of the technology, training, and the integration of the existing information systems. With regards to the HER systems, the CIO should be in charge of the decision making, implementation, and monitoring so as to ensure the smooth transitioning of the change process.
Impact of tele health on leadership, governance, and role of a healthcare CIO
The implementation of tele health need not affect other healthcare units as it only requires setting up a distinct unit to facilitate the new division. The division should be headed by a tele health manager who handles all tele health process including its execution and the delivery of care to patients. The health care CIO needs to ensure that all systems are in place to facilitate the effective communication between patients and physicians. A variety of methods can be used to facilitate communication such as telephone calls, emails, and videoconferencing, depending on the patient’s medical condition and convenience.
Impact of consolidation on leadership, governance, and role of a healthcare CIO
Consolidation requires strong leadership from the CEO of the acquiring organization to effectively merge the two companies and ensure that healthcare objectives are met without any challenges. The CEO has to provide distinct roles in the governing of the new organization by changing the roles of management, altering the organizational structure, and adjusting the scope of leadership for individuals heading leadership positions. The role of the health care CIO is to ensure that the two companies have integrated information systems, and that changes are made to assimilate processes and procedures involving information systems.
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