Outdated technology costs hospital money

A new study conducted by the Ponemon Institute and reported by USA Today’s “CyberTruth” finds that hospitals are absorbing an estimated $8.3 billion annually due to outdated technology. The losses are due to lost productivity and increased patient discharge times caused by the old technology, the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM) reports.

According to the study, clinicians waste an average of 46 minutes per day waiting for patient information. Specifically, 37 minutes of the average discharge time of 102 minutes is due to waiting for hospital staff members to respond with information necessary for the patient’s release. Other lost time is due to inefficient pager systems, no Wi-Fi access, and bans on the use of personally owned devices.

NAHAM reported previously that the Obama administration authorized $19 billion in 2009 to promote the use of electronic medical records. The program reimburses doctors and medical facilities for expenses that can provide “meaningful use” in advancing medical technology at their facility.

Some facilities are adopting technologies such as secure text messaging systems that staff members can download to their personal phones. One program in particular encrypts text messages that it sends, and it stores the messages so that they can be audited. Other technologies include the implementation of a virtual desktop system so staff members only have to remember one password to log onto terminals anywhere in the hospital.

Unique challenges within the healthcare industry may prevent rapid implementation of new technology and cause the lag in technology. Security and privacy policies mandated by law, for example, must be taken into account for any upgrades. Competing electronic health record vendors and the lack of a national EHR infrastructure further complicate matters. To see the CyberTruth report, go to http://usat.ly/141UgXl.