Health Information Technology, or HIT: What is it, really, and why does it impact design?
By Corey Gaarde
With literally thousands of definitions of health information technology (HIT) surfacing from a simple Google search, it’s not always easy to understand what HIT is, exactly, and how it affects the design of a healthcare facility.
In the design world, HIT is sometimes referred to as electronic health records (EHR) such as Epic or Cerner; network; telecom; PCs, printers, and fax machines; low voltage systems; and medical equipment. The best explanation of HIT, however, is one that encompasses all these IT aspects and more.
Still, each healthcare system and design team may have their own definition for HIT, so when determining the vision and setting expectations for a facility it’s important for designers, owners, and end users to be on the same page. To ensure this happens, following are several key considerations to keep in mind:
- Epic and Cerner software play a significant role but can’t and won’t do it all. They, along with other EHR programs, are only a fraction of the many technologies that make up a healthcare project’s HIT design. Having an open mind, being creative, and possessing a breadth of industry awareness is crucial to good planning and design.
- Recognize that technology is constantly evolving and ever more critical to the patient/caregiver experience and satisfaction.
- Despite the complexity of HIT, designing a system that is simple for owners and clinical staff to understand and maintain is imperative.
- Owners, their IT staff, and designers must all be included in planning discussions to ensure a mutual understanding of needs and agreement on how to best meet those needs.
- HIT design must balance constructability with flexibility to meet future needs and technology advances, separating what can be done now and what could be done in the future.
- Since many IT departments typically have numerous projects going on at any given time, there may be a shortage of available resources, such as people who can do the work, capital/operational budgets, and the capacity to take on new initiatives that may compete with active projects.
- The HIT designer should be involved early in the project and serve as a liaison between owner, their clinical and operational end users, IT staff, and the design and construction teams. This will provide a comprehensive HIT view from the lens of patients and caregivers and ensure their connected care experience is at the forefront of the design.
Finally, never let the technology itself be a challenge to your facility’s HIT design – it should be viewed as an enabler of a more advanced and capable system, one that provides for an organization’s current needs with built-in adaptability for the future.
When design teams and owners are willing to challenge the norm and find creative solutions, they can ensure the success of HIT design regardless of how it may be defined.
Learn more about IMEG’s HIT services here.