Given the challenging economic environment in health care today, all health care managers and not just accountants are becoming more aware of the importance of understanding costs (Hall 62). This has led to an increasing use of various information systems. Most health organization managements today insist on the need to use AIS in their hospitals and clinics. The argument is that AIS help ensure integrity of the organization’s transactions, business processes and decisions. AIS is said to provide health care organizations with the means to capture and store accounting and business related data. It also ensures the accuracy timeliness and validity of the organization’s data. The healthcare organizations can use such data to produce their internal and external business reports. AIS also assist organizations in achieving the innovative and strategic initiatives which are both economically and socially critical to the competitive performance (Hall 62).
The Need for AIS in Hospitals, Clinics, Pharmacies and other Related Organizations
Health care organizations are challenged daily by the need to manage and integrate clinical, financial and operational information systems. This has led to the need of an information system that can keep pace with the emerging challenges in the health care institutions. Because of the variation in the sizes of these organizations, such systems should by flexible enough to serve from large multi-entity organizations to the small and mid sized hospitals. The pharmacists equally need a well developed system to support the hospitals unique medication administration initiatives. The information system help the hospitals to re-engineer their medication use process to reduce errors, improve cost savings while enhancing the quality of care.
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To improve patients’ safety and the financial performance, hospitals equally require a comprehensive integrated solution. The need for an appropriate Accounting Information System is an issue that can therefore not be neglected by any health care related facility. Today, numerous applications have been developed for hospitals. This means that every major hospitals and medical center possesses a computerized accounting system and a DRG data billing system. Such systems help in the collection, organization and documentation of medical information to ensure appropriate reimbursement.
Why the Use of Many Subsystems is not efficient for Health Care.
Subsystems are highly developed information systems that address a specific area of need. Apart from the AIS, most health care organizations also have other subsystems for managing their medical, laboratory, and pharmacy and facility records. Using such a system make it necessary to have numerous of such sub-systems because of the diverse nature of the services offered by any one developed health care institution. This has resulted into a conclusion that the use of many sub-systems is not efficient for health care (Yusuf 381).
First, many of these sub-systems do not share information. This has given room to duplication of information and efforts (Stein 218). In many cases, multiple subsystems lead to the generation of a multiple set of overlapping information which is usually duplicative and inefficient. Such an approach also limits the usefulness of the information gathered. Most scholars and experts in this field have therefore called for the need for a more integrated information system. Such a system entails different kinds of information linked together in an organized way. It allows the combination of data on client characteristics, healthy and functional assessments, services use and service billing information. Such an information system is able to link information collected by all different units in the agency. The collected information can thus be made available to all the segments (Stein 217).
Avoiding subsystems is therefore necessary for the elimination of the possibility of duplication in data collection because one integrated entry can serves all the segments. Scholars have also argued that the Integrated Information System makes more information available to all users. According to their argument, the integrated information system allows for better utilization of information to improve service quality and increase efficiency. This integration of information can occur at various levels (Yusuf 377). For example, an agency providing a single service can have an information system linking its various departments. An example is a system linking the clinical staff with the accounting staff. Such links enables the management to integrate the fiscal and client data. This allows the measurement and tracking of service cost and the assessment of cost/benefit and cost effectiveness. In a multiservice agency, such a system would link information across different services while seeking to integrate information across agencies for a given client (Stein 217).
An example of a case where a subsystem can typically not be applicable is a situation where a chronically ill person is involved. Any successful intervention for such cases requires that the individual be attended to both medically as well as being provided with other needs. The nature of the problems facing such people also makes it impossible for them to be divided into acute and long term care segments. This is because their problems and needs are interrelated. In such a case, integrating information across service and provider systems would be very necessary to provide complete information about the participants. Such a set of information should be able to describe the patient’s health needs and conditions, every service the patients receive, the cost of the patient’s care and the outcomes of treatment (Janecka 62).
Integrated Information System is also very useful in allowing the managers of care to make appropriate decisions. This can ease the improvement of the quality while also assisting to limit the total cost of chronic care. It can also be useful to the policy makers especially in allocating resources and planning for the need of the population (Stein 223).
The second limitation of the subsystems is that it may not be useful in a case where a typical long term care client will require services from many agencies. For example, a client may be attending to programs with both the Medicare and Medicaid. In such a scenario, subsystems can not be applicable because it doesn’t allow such programs to share information about their clients. The argument is that it is normal for individuals to access services from Medicare, Medicaid or private-pay sources (Janecka 62). At the same time, the same individual may be receiving relevant social services from state agencies, federal and/or locally funded public programs. Furthermore, an individual’s bills may even be paid by a private entity like an insurance firm. Because there is a considerable overlap in the set of services these payers provide, the need for information sharing can never be avoided. Making the same information available for all these practitioners will ensure that there is no duplication services offered to the client. It will also ensure proper coordination of care for the client among the practitioners.
Experts have also come up with information systems suitable for both long term care and chronic care. Today there are also information systems for nursing homes, home care agencies, and adult day care centers. The chronic care information systems for example, integrate all health care cervices into a coordinated chronic care program (Janecka 63).
It is therefore clear that the use of subsystems is no longer applicable to health care. Most of these organizations are therefore increasingly joining up to integrate into multifunctional acute care information systems. This has been made possible by using various modern database management systems. This has resulted into very comprehensive and efficient systems for today’s health care organizations.
Available software programs used by clinics or hospitals
Visual Staff Scheduler Pro (VSS Pro)
The software is used in hospitals, clinics pharmacies, hospices, and nursing homes. It is used to schedule nurses, doctors, pharmacists, medical technicians, and support staff. The software allows the creation of staff schedule and ensures shift coverage. It also helps the hospitals and clinics to reduce unnecessary overtime expenses. It allows the passage of the information about schedules more effectively and thus improving reporting capabilities.
3M ChartFact is a chart completion management solution for hospitals and clinics. The software helps medical practitioners to quickly review both their paper-based and electronic medical records within the same application. The software is also integrated with 3M’s dictation‚ transcription‚ and electronic signature applications for automated deficiency updates. The software is useful notifying the physicians of all incomplete and delinquent charts while making it easy for the organization to conduct its discharge analysis.
Brickwell Medical office
It is a full featured medical practice management system that integrates scheduling, patient’s demographics, patient’s ledger, billing and collections, multimedia records and powerful reporting.
The software allows for comprehensive patient scheduling and billing. It has a billing module that makes it simple for the medical practitioners to process any medical insurance claims. It also provides a scheduling module which helps health care organizations to collect complete and accurate demographics information. In summary, the software assist in appointment scheduling and insurance verification. It is also useful in keeping Patients Electronic Medical Records, various electronic prescriptions and lab ordering and reporting. Many hospitals are also using the software for storing their transcription, issuing referrals, electronic billing and for managing their revenue cycle. It has helped hospitals save time while keeping the expenses down.