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IT Innovations in Health Care

While modern medicine continues to evolve at a fast pace, it remains quite slow in the creation of patient filing using electronic databases. Medical information is not readily available and it needs to be: timing is everything. Cynthia Solomon is a mother in California who has a son with a rare disorder. When he went out of town and became ill, doctors had no access to his medical records. Fed up with worrying about her son, she took out a second mortgage on her house and created an online medical database called Followme.com (http://www.followme.com/) which enables any doctor to access medical records at any time. Currently, Followme.com is home to 400 plus patient records. Developed in 1990, it focuses on web based IT technologies to address local, state and regional healthcare challenges, and its clients include hospitals, medical organizations and government agencies. CEO Cynthia Solomon maintains that this technology can work for everyone. Her company works with many health agencies in Sonoma County, which has a high migrant population. “Many of these workers have a similar problem,” she says. “They don’t stay in one place too long and have serious chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension.” The software for Follwme.com is now available in a Spanish language version called VIA, and this portable electronic health care system is now widely used by many migrant workers in California. Prescription for Success Worldwide momentum is gathering around support and infrastructure for electronically available health care records. In the United Kingdom, a 12 billion dollar project that will incorporate 18,000 National Health Care sites is slated to debut this year. This network, which will involve five regions in England, will enable all medical records from family doctors, and hospitals to be available online 24 hours a day. The regions will eventually be linked together to become one national online network. Regions in Australia and Spain are also implementing electronic health records. Recent studies show that Canada is number one in e-based government information. Since health care in Canada is government run, a wealth of health care information and services are available online, from booking and MRI to finding out surgical wait times. A patient database, however, is sadly lacking. Physicians to the Rescue Accenture, an international consulting, technology and outsourcing group, recently completed a study with 50 executives and clinicians at 22 hospitals and health systems in countries that have implemented clinical IT systems - from electronic health records to a computerized provider order entry and clinical decision support. The study found that physician support is a critical stepping-stone in the overall success of IT implementation in hospitals. Managers of IT implementation effort need to gain the understanding, support and involvement of the physician community in order to ensure success. The following are some guidelines for successful IT implementation in Health Care as proposed by Accenture researchers: · Alignment of clinical and executive leadership—a common vision with agreed goals and expected results · Effective early engagement of clinicians—during the planning phase as well as throughout the project. · Recognition of the unique relationship between physicians and the institution—as the face of the medical institution and major bearers of the burden of IT adoption. · Individualized approaches to training and support—to fit in with clinicians’ pressured schedules. · Tight feedback and enhancement cycles—to gather input after the initial rollout and enhance the technology based on the experiences of early adopters. IT has enabled change in many frontiers: finance, communication, transportation and manufacturing. Health care needs to be at the forefront of this revolution too.