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The Role of IT in Modern Healthcare Organizations

The role of IT in modern healthcare organizations is increasing. Among recent technology trends there are online systems linking physicians, patients and healthcare administrators, personified patient records, scheduling solutions, tools for providing online consultations to the patients, and multidimensional databases allowing to store this information, to access it from various devices and locations, and advanced methods of information management. The purpose of this paper is to analyze what systems and methods are used by Cleveland Clinic to provide access to medical information and share it, to analyze the effectiveness of these methods, and to develop recommendations for further improvement of effectiveness of IT systems in Cleveland Clinic.

Cleveland Clinic is the largest hospital in Ohio, with more than 1,700 physicians and 833 house staff; the clinic and its regional Family Health Center provide patient care in more than 100 specialties and subspecialties (Cleveland Clinic, 2011), and it is not surprising that the clinic is ranked as one of top 10 best performing US hospitals since 1990 (Cleveland Clinic, 2011). To a large extent, the success of this clinic is determined by intensive use of information technology and active collaboration with leading software companies such as Google, Microsoft, Revolution Health and Dossia (Cleveland Clinic, 2011).

Patients of Cleveland Clinic can manage their records online using a special health recording system called MyChart (Cleveland Clinic, 2011). Using this system, patients can access their personal health records, view their laboratory results, renew their prescriptions online and schedule appointments. For physicians, electronic tools for prescribing, managing medications and checking possible drug allergies or interactions as well as scheduling appointments with patients are available. Physicians can post notes, lab results and radiology results, schedule screening tests and collaborate with physicians either working in the Cleveland Clinic or in external organizations (Cleveland Clinic, 2011). For patients, online tools also allow to manage their health on a daily basis and to enter this information into the system; patients can set up health-related reminders and search for the information related to their health problems.

In 2009, Cleveland Clinic started implementing a Google Health system which would allow to manage all health records of the patient provided both by the clinic and by other healthcare providers; health records can thus be shared between different clinics, emergency services, pharmacies, etc (Finkelstein, 2009). Online tools provided by Cleveland Clinic allow to share the information not only inside Cleveland Clinic, but also share it with external healthcare providers, family members, informal caregivers, etc. With regard to information sharing, online tools of Cleveland Clinic allow to define access settings, and patients can easily determine the types of information that can be accessed by certain groups of people. Updated personal health records allow patients to store diagnoses, medications, day-to-day health records and other health information in the system (Finkelstein, 2009). The effectiveness of such integrated system of health records is significantly greater than the effectiveness of previous internal system of health records.

Furthermore, Cleveland Clinic has started collaborating with InterSystems, a leading provider of healthcare software solutions, in order to implement a single database which would unite all online tools and would at the same time be easily scalable and easily accessible (InterSystems Case Studies, 2011). InterSystems Cache platform is a multidimensional database management system, which allows to integrate existing solutions of Cleveland Clinic (InterSystems Case Studies, 2011) and to use the information provided by Google Health program in the most effective way.

It is possible to see that Cleveland Clinic collaborates with many software providers and increased the effectiveness of health care services using innovative technologies and online tools. These activities resulted in better service for the patients and more detailed information about the patients’ health state available in the system. Adding Google Health to the information system of Cleveland Clinic allowed to gather additional information about the patients, and to eliminate the problems associated with missing or insufficient health records. A potential IT problem of Cleveland Clinic might be related to the diversity of technologies and tools used at the clinic. Such diversity required additional expenses on management and staff training, and reduces overall effectiveness of IT technology. However, Cleveland Clinic also identified this problem, and managed to address it by implementing Cache – a multidimensional database management system. When all IT tools and facilities of Cleveland Clinic will be integrated into this system, effectiveness of the clinic will be even greater than it is nowadays, and the clinic will be able to operate at the new level of efficiency.

 

References

Cleveland Clinic. (2011). Retrieved from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/default.aspx
Finkelstein, J.B. (2009). Wired for Wellness. Retrieved from http://cchealth.clevelandclinic.org/cover-story/wired-wellness
InterSystems Case Studies. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.intersystems.com/casestudies/by-industry.html