HIMSS: Healthcare professionals believe IT enhances patient safety

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Medication errors will reduce as information technology (IT) implementations increase, healthcare professionals opined in a new study released by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and sponsored by the Information Solutions division of McKesson Corp.

 While 80 percent say that bar codes in medication administration and 76 percent believe that computerized provider order entry (CPOE) will improve patient safety, current implementation rates within healthcare facilities are low -- 19 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Despite the lackluster implementation rates, the HIMSS poll determined that hospitals are on their way to utilizing new information technologies to enhance patient care.

Nearly 55 percent of respondents indicated automated medication cabinets and web-based access to patient information have the highest rate of use.

 With formal patient safety programs are underway in healthcare facilities, nurses are more likely to participate on the committees than IT representatives.

The study also notes that the most likely reason why providers have yet to implement safety-enhancing technology was lack of budget or access to capital. Other top obstacles include physician user resistance to technology and the maturity of the available technology.

More than 247 senior executives and managers in healthcare organizations across the country participated in the 2003 HIMSS Patient Safety Survey.