Owing to technological advances, health care providers have found it imperative to adopt an also use electronic health records to aid in the documentation of relevant data in its quest to facilitate the provision of better, efficient and less costly health care. The effective implementation of this process cannot be met without an adequate Health Information Technology workforce. Extant literature and research on the subject has tended to focus on the staffing ratios, job roles, leadership and educational qualifications, competencies as well as gap and growth whilst ignoring other salient parameters necessary in building the appropriate human capacity.
This research proposal seeks to examine the other parameters that are critical in building human capacity of the workforce in the HIT profession so as to ensure the availability of not only balanced skills but also diverse competencies in the HIT workforce. To this end, the proposal begins with a background study of the subsisting situation and then explores the purpose for the research study. To facilitate this, the proposal then formulates the research objectives that are necessary in meeting the aims of the study and discusses the research questions to be used during the study. In the next section of the proposal, there is preliminary thesis which discusses the circumstances attending the study, albeit in little detail and also a section on the boundaries of research which basically lays the scope of the study. Finally, the proposal gives an outline of the research subtopics as will appear in the main study to aid in the conduct of the research.
Background to the Study
Health Information technology plays a significant role in the health care sector today. It has been defined as the application of formal processing that makes use of both computer hardware and software which deals with the storage, sharing and retrieval of data for communication and decision making (Chaudhry, Wang and Wu). As the world moves towards technology, it has become imperative for the health care providers to get workers in the Health Information Technology departments to aid in the adoption and use of electronic records. However, there is a great challenge with regard to the workforce in this sector, a fact that has debilitated against the uptake of the benefits of a better and cheaper health care.
According to estimates from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there around 51,000 health information technology professionals will be required in future if the United States is to transition to successful and meaningful users of health IT systems. Challenges abound in obtaining and retaining the necessary workforce in this fledgling sector which is critical to the sustenance and maintenance of a health information system (Moore, &Fisher and Kathleen). It is the safety net community where the need for this Health Information system workforce is greatly needed as health information technology plays a central role in the improvement of quality of health care and reduction of health care costs. In particular, health IT professionals are needed to help the implementation of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, develop templates for the customization of the systems and the availing of network solutions for health systems. The implementation of the International Classification of Diseases Conversion(ICD-10) and the implementation of various IT systems that are critical for coordination of care in tandem with Federal initiatives such as the Patient Centered Medical Home necessitate an increased need for health IT workforce (Milstein and Bates). Further, extant literature has majorly focused on other issues on the subject such as job roles, leadership and educational qualifications, gap and growth as well as staffing ratios while ignoring other essential parameters. It is against this background and the gap left by the extant literature on the aspect of the salient parameters that are critical in the building of human capacity in the HIT profession that is of interest in this study. These parameters have to be examined if balanced skills and diverse competencies in the HIT workforce is to be achieved.
Purpose of the Research
As earlier stated, the implementation of Information Technology in the healthcare sector is characterized by a number of challenges ranging from financial resources to human resource capacity. This research, therefore, explores the challenges beset by a lack of adequate workforce to enable the effective implementation of Health Information Technology. Besides, the research study will also outline the proposed strategies of overcoming the challenges of implementing Health Information Technology chiefly a shortage of workforce in order to improve the quality of healthcare provided to clients. The employment of health IT will not only foster greater safety that is accompanied by less errors and new abilities of monitoring public health. the importance of Electronic Health Records that are sought by the implementation of health IT is that it will has the potential of increasing the efficiency of health care by charting and tracking multiple goals over a period of time. It is also instructive to note that health IT professionals will require further training to enable them implement these electronic health records at health care delivery sites and to be able to report using quality performance data (Brailer and Thompson). As such, it is evident that there is need for strategies such as training of the subsisting health care workforce and seek for ways to increase their number so as to make possible the provision of better, efficient and less costly health care. This research study seeks to identify these challenges that face the workforce and the whole profession of Health Information Technology and devise strategies to meet the challenges. It is the purpose of this study to contribute to a body of knowledge aimed at building and boosting the appropriate human capacity in the health Information Technology profession by focusing on the erstwhile ignored salient parameters of building human capacity for the profession.
This research’s objectives are:
This research aims at answering the following questions:
- Why is Health Information Technology of relevance to the health care sector?
- How is Health Information Technology (HIT) contributing to the improvement and efficiency of healthcare quality?
- What is there a shortage of professionals in the health Information Technology sector?
- How is it possible to build the workforce of professionals in the field of Health Information Technology?
- In what ways can the subsisting professionals in HIT be increased and their skills upgraded to plug the gap in the market, going into the future?
- What are the some of the key objectives of making use of a broad and utilization of Health Information Technology?
- Why has the extant literature on this subject not focused on the central parameters necessary for the building of the requisite human capacity within the HIT workforce?
- Besides improving individual health care, HIT also brings with it several public benefits. What are some of the benefits that it confers?
- Given the importance of HIT, which strategies should be put in place to help in the implementation of HIT and contribute to the building of a bigger workforce?
- How are the barriers to effective implementation of health information technology affecting the delivery of health care services?
- Why it is critical for the healthcare management to undertake strategies of enhancing the use of technology in the health sector?
It is undisputable fact that HIT has resulted into improvement in quality of health services that patients and other healthcare clients receive. In this respect, HIT, reduces medical errors, decreases dosage errors, and increases the degree of medical precision and accuracy. Electronic health record, on the other hand, increases the access of vital medical records to both patients and healthcare providers. The implantation and application of HIT’s main challenges include the complex nature of IT implementation and higher costs involved in IT integration. To overcome these challenges, this research proposes feasible and sustainable strategies. Some of the proposed strategies include increasing the financial allocation and investment in Health Information Technology (HIT) to meet the financial demands of implementing IT integration in the health sector. Secondly, given the complexity of IT, it would be essential to providing adequate IT training to the nursing and the medical fraternity and patients. This would aid their knowledge and understanding of the IT applications and basics for the purpose of quality service delivery. Finally, improved broadband communication strategies and networks would be introduced in health institutions to facilitate effective communication across these institutions.
Boundaries of the Research Area
The research will be limited to health institutions that are located within the locality. This is attributed to the limited financial resources and inadequate time to carry out a comprehensive research study in all leading hospitals and health institutions. It is on these accounts that the study specifically concentrate in Los Angeles City. The choice of the city is based on the fact that most institutions within the city boundary have integrated their health information technology systems, thereby, enjoying the fruits of HIT as well as meeting the challenges as such moves.
The study will cover the following:
- The introduction to health information technology
This will explore the history of Information Technology in medicine or health sciences. This section will further define the term “Health Information Technology”. It will give an insight on the roles that HIT plays in the health care sector and the emergence of Electronic Health Records with the advent of technology.
- Contribution of health information technology to the health sector
Under this sub-topic, the significance and contribution of Health Information Technology will be discussed in details. Some of the key contributions that will be taken into account include; increased access to health information, safer storage, transfer and collection of health information, and retrieval of vital health records. In addition, this section will highlight other benefits of HIT such as possibility of reduced medical errors, faster service delivery, and health information accuracy. It is the case that Health Information Technology not only acts to contribute to improvement of increased health care but also carries with it several public benefits. This section of the outline will further explore these public benefits as well as the various objectives of the use of HIT.
- The challenges to the building of a workforce in health care information technology
The implementation of Health Information Technology is characterized by numerous challenges. Some of the challenges that will be discussed under this sub-topic include shortage of manpower as well as economic and technical barriers. The section’s main concern is the challenge of the shortfall in health IT professionals and the challenges therein. More so, nature of IT implementation and higher costs involved in IT integration will be focused on in this research study. This section will also highlight the main problem faced in the adoption of HIT from the perspective of physicians.
- Strategies of improving health information technology
Brailer, D and T Thompson. Health IT strategic framework. Washington DC: Department of Health and Human Services, 2004.
Chaudhry, B, J Wang and S Wu. "Systematic review: Impact of health information technology on quality, efficiency, and costs of medical care." Annals of Internal Medicine, 144(10) (2006): 742-752.
Milstein, Julia A and David W Bates. "Paperless healthcare: Progress and challenges of an IT-enabled healthcare system." Business Horizons, 53(2 (2010): 119-130.
Moore, An'nita &Fisher and Kathleen. "Healthcare Information Technology and Medical-Surgical Nurse: The Emergence of a New Care Partnership." CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 30(3) (2012): 157-163.