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All hospitals especially smaller ones have some form of IT department that interacts with almost all other parts of the organization. Hospital IT departments have an important role in assisting hospital staff to manage and care for patients. These systems are so important that if they fail to work, it can be a matter of life and death. 

It is important that hospital IT follows all the rules and laws stated by the health care technology act.

The IT department is responsible for managing clinical software and other processes that help administrative staff to keep patient records and admission systems. They also check and keep an eye on the performance of medical wards, operating rooms, labour and delivery suites, and emergency departments. 

Some of these functions include billing, registration, health information management, ordering and receiving lab reports. There is specialist software for radiology or IV pumps. In addition to it, the IT department performs some additional tasks like providing network infrastructure, IT security, server maintenance, software deployments, and more. 

Health IT’s main purpose is to provide better care for patients and improve the quality of healthcare delivery, decrease medical errors, and strengthen the interaction between patients and healthcare providers.     

IT departments are also responsible for desktop support. Many hospitals and healthcare organizations around the world have turned desk alerts to help manage helpdesk communications and take the pressure off IT staff.  To find out more check alphaii.com/.

Hospital executive structure:   

The CEO commands the chief operating officer or chief information officer, and the chief information officer has the authority over the hospital’s IT department. The chief medical information officer (CMIO) communicates with the CEO and CIO and works closely with the VP of nursing operations. The CMIO represents the physicians of the organization in determining the long-term vision for IT. They play a fundamental role in all major IT decisions.

Hospital IT departments:

  • Inpatient clinical applications:

This department manages clinical software and other processes related to it that serve the onsite hospital departments like medical floors and wards, ICU, operating rooms, labour and delivery, and majorly the emergency departments. Some of the software products support by this group are: 

  • Inpatient clinical documentation such as Epic ClinDoc or Meditech Patient Care Management
  • Imaging software for Radiology
  • Inpatient Billing
  • Health Information Management (HIM)
  • Inpatient registration
  • Clinical orders and Inpatient lab results
  • Software to support pharmacy systems such as Omnicell and Pyxis
  • Patient location tracking systems
  • IV pumps and related software

The IT manager of this group has usually one of the largest teams, and the application analysts on this team have more licensed staff like RN, pharmacists than other areas. This team has a heavy load of work because a hospital is a 24/7 operation. They get after-hours calls frequently. Several hospital nurses’ transition into IT by this route.

  • Ambulatory Clinical Applications:

The manager of this team is over the clinical analysts who support software and related processes for the outpatient department. They support these kinds of software products:     

  • Ambulatory electronic health records (EHR)
  • Outpatient Billing
  • Patient portals (like MyChart and athenahealth)
  • Scheduling software
  • Many Specialties such as Cardiology, Eye Care, Behavioral Health, and Home Health
  • Mobile apps used by patients and providers
  • Electronic medication prescribing (Surescripts and others)
  • Controlled access to medical records by community providers (Physician portals)

The size of the ambulatory team depends on the number of outpatient and speciality clinics, that the organization has. The ambulatory analysts get their share of after-hours and weekend calls.  

  • Business Applications Team:

 The business application team supports that nonclinical IT software and services that are not always at the top of people’s minds. These include:

  • Dietary software systems
  • Payroll systems
  • Timekeeping programs (like Kronos)
  • Electronic faxing (like RightFax)
  • Supply inventory systems (like Par Excellence)
  • Email and instant messaging systems
  • Oddball programs and applications that do not fit anywhere else (secure file transfer portals, utilities)
  • Networking, Security, & Infrastructure:

This is the highly technical team responsible for core systems, security, and system maintenance. The functions they perform are:

  • Firewalls
  • System upgrades, large and small on just about every system
  • Security
  • Network maintenance and upgrades
  • Interface Analysts
  • Server maintenance
  • Operating System maintenance (Linux, Windows, and others)
  • Software deployments

These are the system administrators that usually focus on specific areas.

 Project Management Office:

Hospital IT project managers provide direction for specific projects. They work with staff managers directors, analysts and CIO to ensure that projects are successful. 

IT Trainers:

The training department employs the IT staff who develop curriculum, and train end-users on many software systems. 

Conclusion: 

IT services are important for any healthcare unit. The right IT partner can ensure extraordinary benefits in improving the quality of care that patients receive. 

The primary responsibilities of health IT professionals are divided into three categories:

  • Health IT: implementation and maintenance of EHR
  • Health information management: patient and data and quality 
  • Data analytics: analytics and reporting 

Health IT specialists build and support EHR and other systems that store and record patient’s data.  All health IT specialists ensure that electronic health data managed by HIM is maintained accurately. Health IT specialists interact with clinicians, and staff at all levels. They may also train nurses, physicians, and others on how to use EHR.   

Hospitals have several IT departments which have their specific role. These departments are inpatient clinical applications, ambulatory clinical applications, networking, security and infrastructure, business application team, desktop support and helpdesk, IT trainers. The new era of EHRs will bring many benefits to the medical community