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IT Can Ease Healthcare Staff Shortage

May 10, 2011 No Comments

SOURCE: InformationWeek

Electronic medical records (EMRs) and other IT systems will go a long way toward alleviating an expected shortage of qualified healthcare professionals and staff as health insurance reform takes hold, according to a new poll from the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

The survey of 475 professionals involved in healthcare quality revealed that clinical and operational personnel now are on the same page as IT staff in their belief that IT can help improve quality in healthcare. “I was amazed to see how consonant they were,” Dr. Joseph Fortuna, chair of ASQ’s Healthcare Division Fortuna, told InformationWeek.

Milwaukee-based ASQ cited a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forecast that said healthcare staffing shortages will worsen starting in 2014, as 32 million more people gain health insurance because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and aging baby boomers become eligible for Medicare. The shortages will likely result in longer wait times in emergency rooms and to see primary care physicians, greater fragmentation of care, and potentially more medical errors, the survey indicated.

But properly implemented IT can help reduce errors, provide better access to health information, and improve care coordination, said Fortuna, who also is CEO of Prism, a not-for-profit organization in Troy, Mich., that assists medical practices with change management. “The idea is, [survey respondents] are tying it to increased efficiency,” Fortuna explained. “At its core, it’s a technical transformation as much as a clinical and operation.

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