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3/21/2011
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Clinical Workflow Integration Tops Health IT Priorities

Telemedicine and collaborative tools are also high on health IT professionals' project lists, reports Avaya survey.

17 Leading EHR Vendors
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During the next three years, 95% of healthcare IT professionals believe that communication and workflow integration into healthcare information systems will be a very important issue to address as healthcare delivery organizations prepare to meet meaningful use and accountable care requirements.

The findings come from a survey conducted by Avaya, which interviewed 130 healthcare IT professionals in February at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Orlando, Fla.

The survey results, which were released March 14, also showed that 74% of respondents listed automated patient follow-up applications, and 64% rated voice, video, and text collaborative tools as important technologies that will impact their work during the next three years.

According to Bruce Wallace, Avaya's healthcare practice leader, the discussions his company has had with its healthcare customers reveal that clinicians want to more efficiently collaborate with each other around the care process as they seek to improve decision support for their patients.

"Healthcare is a service delivered by a team, and increasingly the team cannot easily meet face to face, whether because of the size of a single hospital, or the multisite nature of hospital systems, or the need for care to be provided across large distances," Wallace told InformationWeek in an interview. "The shift towards accountable care organizations, enabled by the meaningful use of the electronic medical records (EMRs), is only going to expand this need."

When asked what results they expect to gain from their technology investments, 74% of respondents said they hoped the technology would improve the quality of care and response to patients' needs. A full 67% said they considered mobile communications to be most beneficial to them because it has the potential to improve patient care by improving response times to patients.

The survey also revealed that respondents believe video-based communications in the healthcare industry could make the most significant impact in two key areas -- physician consultations and distance telemedicine -- both of which tied for first place in terms of perceived impact.

Participants also reflected on the obstacles to providing better patient care, with 32% saying that overextended clinical staff spending too much time performing non-patient-care activities was their most important concern. Another 25% said poor or lack of effective communication among staff is their biggest challenge and an equal percentage of respondents cited bottlenecks in patient flow.

"The key challenge here is the size of the change that healthcare providers are facing and their ability to work through the tasks. The adoption of EMR technology as driven by HITECH has been the immediate focus of many IT organizations," Wallace said. "With these deployments now well underway or complete, healthcare providers can now focus on how these solutions, coupled with collaborative communications, and integrating the capabilities can allow a hospital to significantly improve efficiency."

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