The modern era has seen a rapid change in the processes of almost all the sectors involved in an economy. The reason behind such rapid change is the use of advanced technologies and information systems. Every now and then, there has been an introduction of a newer and more efficient technology, which helps in reducing the human efforts and saves the time of organizations. These organizations tend to utilize such advancements in the technologies to have a competitive advantage over their competitors. The use of advanced technologies also helps the organization to achieve economies of scale through minimizing the overall cost of the organization.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are a broader and more extended perspective of information technology. The term is used to stress upon the role of information and communication as an integrated approach, using all the communication means and tools in a unified manner to increase the efficiency of the organization (Chetley, 2006). The purpose of ICT is to use all the enterprise software and computers to enable the users of the organization for accessing, storing, transmitting, and manipulating the information of the organization.
One of the sectors which have also been benefited from the use of ICT is the health and social care sector. ICT has allowed the sector to improve their services for its users through minimizing the time of service delivery while maximizing the quality of services. This paper will discuss the use of ICT in the health and social care sector, by highlighting standard ICT packages. Furthermore, it will draw attention towards the benefits of using ICT for the sector and people associated with it. Finally, it will analyze the impact of legal considerations in the use of ICT on the sector.
The use of advanced technologies allows the health and social care organizations to maintain their databases in an efficient manner. Though, it is required for organizations to access which tools need to be utilized for enhancing the overall performance of the organization. There are numerous information and communications technologies which can be utilized by these organizations to deliver a high quality service to its users (Perron, et.al, 2010). Some of the notable technological tools include word processing, spreadsheet, database, information retrieval, internet, intranet, email, and image software.
Word processing is a simple, yet very useful, tool used by the health and social care organizations. It allows the service providers to prepare medical letters, reports of the users, and for other reporting purposes. In my organization word processing is used in diverse functions. Word processing can be used to create well-designed documents, patient’s reports, printable application forms, other evidences related to the patient’s health etc.
Spread sheets are used by these organizations to input data and information about the each individual user. It is also used for modifying and formatting the available data as and when it is required. Furthermore, data and information are being sorted and filtered using the spread sheet software, which allows the organization to have an organized set of data available in their databases. The tool is also used for making graphs and charts while having a survey conducted in the health care sector. In my organisation there are many patients who are admitted every day in different health and care units, the staff has to ensure that they could easily identify each patient’s data separately. Thus in that case use of spreadsheets to record, catalog, analyze, and store laboratory test data are ubiquitous, the use of spreadsheets for developing patients’ reports that use these data for performing complex calculations and providing interpretive information in useful, eye-appealing, and colorful reports is much less ubiquitous.
A database is a very significant tool for the health and social care organizations, which allow the service providers to keep a track of their users by maintaining their data. It allows the organization to secure all the data and information about each individual user, which can subsequently be used at any time by the service providers to retrieve it for future references (Yeandle & Fry, 2010). As mentioned above that each health unit has several patients admitted into it, the staff has to keep the record and details of each patient’s expense, medical details, medication history etc. thus the use of Databases in health care units is very effective and essential. With this the our staff do not require to pile up several files and documents for each case.
Information retrieval is used by these organizations to regain the data and information regarding the previous history of the users. This is used when the users have to come in again after a successful treatment process. Service providers use the information retrieval tool for providing speedy services to their users. In my organisation, With the use of the above softwares (Word, spreadsheets, databases) our staff does not require to search different files and documents for each case. They could easily retrieve any of the information of any patient easily and that too in a speedy manner. This would result in enhancing the efficiency of the staff. Now the staff instead of searching for documents can incorporate their efforts in some other work.
The internet is a must technological tool used in all the platforms, not just in any organization. It allows the health and social care organizations to use it for keeping themselves updated about the industry happenings (Olve & Vimarlund, 2006). Furthermore, it is also used as an essential communication tool for sharing information with the users. In the health care unit doctors can easily communicate with fellow doctors with the use of the internet in an inexpensive manner. My health care units can easily transfer the documents of a case from one unit to another in a speedy and cost effective manner. This would help in easy consultation for a patient with the use of the internet.
An intranet is a network which is used within an organization. It allows organizations to use Internet Protocol technology in order to share the computing services, data and information, and also the operational systems within an organization. It allows the service providers of health and social care organizations to use the organizational data and information for future correspondence (Comyn, Olsson, & Guenzler, 2006). The use of intranet also helps these organizations in saving their time and improving their overall services. In my organization each health care unit comprises several related units that are dedicated to particular diseases. With the use of intranet the our organization can easily transmit information from one unit to another in seconds. This increases the speed of treatment and can save lives of many patients without any delay.
All the service providers in the health and social care organizations are required to use company generated emails as a tool to communicate with the other staff, users, and people associated with the organizations. In my organisation in health care units we always sending emails to different staff mmbers and other senior athourties we can attach several files regarding the health of patient for immediate feedback.
Image software is used by theses organizations for X-rays and other clinical images. This is a very significant tool for such organizations as doctors and health care specialists use these pictures and X-Ray’s for analyzing the condition of the users. With the use of image softwares my health care unit can easily perform several tests within the organization itself. This saves the time of the patients and staff can take immediate steps for the treatment of patients.
Integration of Communication and IT Tools
The use of all such tools in health and social care organization allows them to build a strong system of gathering, storing, and retrieving the data and information of their users. The integration of these tools helps the organization to save their time and utilize this time in improving their operational processes. The integration also helps these organizations can be able to enhance their services and achieve competitive advantage over their competitors.
Benefits of Using ICT
The use of ICT not only helps the organization and its workers to improve their services, but it also helps the users to avail the highest quality service in order to meet their personal satisfaction level. There is a wrong perception regarding the fact that ICT helps in saving the time of the organization, but it provides a lot more benefits than just saving their time.
Firstly, the benefits related to users of the organization include meeting the individual needs of all the users who have availed the services of the organization. The treatment they can receive will be of improved quality meeting the standards of the industry. The improved processes of these organizations also help to improve the treatment procedure of the organization, which provides more comfort for the users. Furthermore, ICT can also help to improve and maintain the accuracy of records of user (Olve & Vimarlund, 2006). This allows users to easily correspond with the organization and their health care service providers for future issues. By using ICT strategy, the communication between the users and their service providers also improved to a considerable extent. ICT allows the fastest medium of communication, with saving much of the time of all the parties associated. The implementation of ICT strategy also allows users to be benefited from the safety of their data and personal and confidential information. This helps in maintaining their independence and builds their trust over the organization.
The use of ICT strategy also provides benefits to the care workers and the organization itself. Firstly, the use of ICT strategy helps in meeting the needs of the staff. This allows the staff to work with more ease, and use the tools to enhance their performances, and increase their chances of promotions. ICT also helps in improving the administrative activities of the business (Yeandle & Fry, 2010). The improved and enhanced means of communications allow the administration to apply their saved time in other operations of the business. The integration of all such tools allows the organization and service providers to improve the efficiency of their work. A treatment that would take 5 hours in a normal setup requires just 1 to 2 hours through using the ICT strategy.
Though the use of ICT strategy provides numerous benefits to the organization, its workers, and users, but it also has some legal considerations related to the use of ICT strategy. The first and foremost concern is related to the health and safety issues. Since the use of ICT allows compiling the data and information on a large scale, it may also cause for the stress of the workers in identifying the appropriate data for the right patients.
Then, there is also the legal implication relating the data protection of the users of an organization. As the technology advances, it also paves more means for hackers and intruders to steal the information and data from any of the public and private organizations. With the integrated use of communication tools, hackers if once intrude to the network or even any of the individual system can easily enter into the entire database of the organization (Comyn, Olsson, & Guenzler, 2006). Then, the loss or misuse of user’s confidential data also leads them to face the legal charges from the regulatory bodies. Therefore, health and social care organizations need to implement a stronger data prevention tools and strategies, which will help them in building the trust of their users. First of all the staff authorized to use the computer software should eliminate all the data that are not absolutely required for the health care department. The staff should never share any credential data with any third person who is not at all involved with the unit. Educating the staff is an essential step that has to be undertaken by the health care unit. This will eliminate the issue of any theft of data from the unit to another.
The use of integrated means of technology also allows all the workers to access the data and information of the users, even if it does not relate to them. This might cause a sense of insecurity for the users and the organization itself. They need to limit their workers for access and retrieval of that data which is related to their domain.
Concluding the paper, the use of information and communications technology helps the health and social care organizations in not only improve their services but also enhance the productivity. This not only benefits the organizations, but it also benefits the workers as well as users of the organization. Users feel more satisfied with the services of the organization, through the use of ICT. It allows the organization to integrate all their means and tools of communication and databases. Furthermore, there are some legal considerations relating to the implication of ICT strategy, such as a health issue and data security issue. If organizations improve on these concerns, they can further enhance their performance by providing better health care services with the safety of user’s data. Patient-centered communication is any communication that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values. This includes all modes of communication (e.g., written or verbal) and all participants in health care (e.g., communication within and between patients, practitioners, and health care organizations). Relationships between patients, practitioners and the organizations within which they interact can be enhanced by framing policies and practices that promote patient-centered communication.