BERLIN, GERMANY - (HealthTech Wire / News) - A lot of professionals working in the clinical sector find IT solutions for medical documentation a necessary evil rather than a blessing. Physicians complain that they are having to do more and more IT work. In truth, IT solutions are often used to implement regulatory requirements which would be much more difficult to handle without them, Helmut Schlegel, Head of the IT department at the Nuremberg University Teaching Hospital says. Mr. Schlegel will be chairing the congress session titled Using IT process support to improve efficiency at conhIT 2014, the health IT sectors major meeting in Berlin, together with Dr. Pierre-Michael Meier, vice-spokesperson of the IuiG Initiative Councils ENTSCHEIDERFABRIK. We want to show the added value that medical IT solutions bring. This can be demonstrated wonderfully using suitable examples according to Dr. Meier.

Computers are valuable colleagues when it comes to entering codes

One obvious example of increased efficiency in clinical documentation is the use of computer-controlled coding solutions and terminology servers. These IT solutions help physicians and medical controllers to compile diagnosis lists for the DRG settlement system: Using specific algorithms, the programmes automatically scan digitised medical documentation and provide suggestions for the coding of diagnoses, especially secondary diagnoses which often get overlooked in documentation carried out under the stress of a busy hospital routine.

The support these solutions offer is quite obvious: In many cases, the medical documents are not finally compiled until long after the invoice has been written. Coding is then incomplete and the hospital is not paid fully for all the services it has performed, Meier emphasises. The aim of computer-supported coding is to record the actual services performed, correctly and in full, before the invoice is written. This contributes to securing revenue and relieves staff of the bothersome and time-consuming task of entering codes later on.

Process support increases the safety of drug-based therapy

IT solutions can also make a vast contribution to supporting drug-based therapy and indeed at several different levels. A well-implemented electronic prescription can make a separate doctors round to check on medication, nowadays a common practice on many wards, superfluous. This saves a lot of time as well as freeing up resources and lowering process costs. Apart from which, medication interaction and contra-indications are automatically recognised, thus reducing complications caused by inappropriate medication and increasing patient safety, according to Meier.

A particularly critical point of drug-based therapy is the intersectoral interface, for example between hospital and outpatient care, or between hospital and after-care facilities or a rehabilitation clinic. This is where information often gets lost, resulting in avoidable poststationary complications. If one uses IT solutions that ensure controlled intersectoral transfer of information on the patients medication such problems can be avoided. Despite this, solutions of this kind are still not being used on a broad basis, Schlegel emphasised.

One problem which the sector still has to fight with is the lack of established standards that would make intersectoral communication easier. A good example of how this works can be found in the IHE-Cookbook recently published by the German Association of Health IT Vendors bvitg e. V. and IHE Deutschland. This shows how producers and users can detach the processes of interdisciplinary and multi-facility healthcare from standards. In the IHE-Cookbook, the use of different standards for a defined application scenario in so-called profiles is described but without doubting the justification for the respective standard. This topic, too, will be addressed at conhIT 2014.

Process support solutions at conhIT 2014

The conhIT programme contains a number of events dealing directly or indirectly with process support by means of Health IT. Some of these are, for example:

6 May 2014

Congress session 5: Complex structures and processes of the health system does medical documentation suit its demands?

Congress session 8: IT for care must be more than the accomplishment of bureaucratization

Workshop: IHE What else?

7 May 2014

Congress session 10: Using IT process support to improve efficiency

Congress session 9: Medical devices

conhIT-Academy seminar: Establishing and marketing the added value of IT in hospitals

8 May 2014

Congress session 16 Health Telematics

Congress session 14: Filing systems in Europe

as well as various panel discussions and workshops held as part of networking activities on all days of the congress. At the conhIT industrial fair, all the market leaders as well as numerous established small and medium-sized enterprises will be presenting the full Health IT spectrum. Anyone who want to find out about the exhibitors products and services before conhIT kicks off on 6 May can search the conhIT-Virtual Market Place for topics that interest them. Free tickets for the conhIT industrial fair are still available up to and including 31 March 2014.

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Source: HealthTech Wire

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