Four Ways Technology is Helping to Improve Patient Safety

Four Ways Technology is Helping to Improve Patient Safety

Published: February 9th, 2017

Technology has become an integral part of medicine today. The right technology can assist with increased efficiency, improved quality, and reduced costs. Some of the many advantages technology can provide include the facilitation of communication between clinicians, improving medication safety, reducing potential medical errors, increasing access to medical information, and encouraging patient-centered care. The following are just a few ways technology is helping to improve patient safety:

  1.  Facilitates Communication Between Clinicians- Often in a patient’s medical journey, multiple healthcare professionals are involved in their care. This can dramatically increase the potential for miscommunication or error. Communication failures are one of the most common factors that contribute to the occurrence of adverse events. Electronic Health Records, are designed to help reduce those errors by compiling and maintaining all of the patient’s health information into one easily accessible record.
  2. Reduces Medication Errors- Prescribing errors are another of common medical error that can potentially lead to serious complications. Electronic prescribing can help to reduce prescription errors by allowing clinicians to send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy. Medical alerts, clinical flags and reminders are also ways that technology can help reduce medication errors and improve patient safety.
  3. Provides Access to Information- Many serious medication errors are the result of clinicians not having sufficient information about the patient or drug. Information technology has drastically improved the access to reference information. A large range of drug-reference information is now available for hand-held devices and clinicians are able to quickly access textbooks, databases, and other medical references online.
  4. Increases Patient-Centered Care- Encouraging patients to be more involved in their care is important for many reasons including increased compliance and patient satisfaction.  Technology helps contribute to patient-centered care by fostering communication between providers and patients via online portals, text messaging, and email. It also increases access to information such as online medical records which can improve self-monitoring and patient convenience.

Information technology can have a substantial impact on patient safety. As with most technology, there may be benefits and potential concerns. With any implementation or use of healthcare technology, it is critical that patient safety and quality always remain the primary focus.