It could be argued that the first wave of health IT primarily impacted patients, who have been able to receive higher quality care at facilities that have met initial meaningful use requirements.
Still, even the facilities that worked with healthcare IT consulting companies to overtake the barriers to successful adoption may have encountered some difficulties along the way. High adoption costs, a lack of sufficient support and maintenance structures, and a steep learning curve for staff members each could have served as impediments to the expedient health IT use.
In the future, healthcare professionals are optimistic that the next iteration of electronic medical records and related health IT tools will prove to be even more user-friendly, which should free up the time of doctors even more. According to Dr. Lyle Berkowitz, Northwestern Memorial Hospital's associate chief medical officer of innovation, new health IT tools will be more intuitive and user-friendly than their predecessors.
Berkowitz is optimistic that new technologies will allow facilities to go beyond merely meeting meaningful use requirements.
"I'm always on the lookout for things I do repetitively, to see if they can be automated," Berkowitz told MedCity News. "I'm always trying to figure out how to take something I do in 20 steps and cut it down to five steps or, even better, zero steps."
The more entrenched an electronic medical records system is in a facility's workflow, the more likely it will benefit both patients and doctors. At the same time, the initial upheaval that may result from adopting health IT can be burdensome and costly if not handled correctly.
Experienced healthcare consulting firms are able to anticipate these challenges before they arise, meaning that medical facilities will be prepared to confront them, ultimately leading to a smoother health IT adoption process.