Healthcare information management is a rapidly changing field due to new technological developments that quickly make old systems obsolete. New requirements for information sharing will result from the passage and implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act.
Healthcare operations generate enormous amounts of data every day. The data must be integrated and stored for future use in order to generate patient medical records, facilitate the processing of medical payments, provide statistics for epidemiological research, and defend against possible law suits. Health care information that is properly used and analyzed can result in lowered costs and improved patient care management.
Here is a brief overview of five new technologies that have the potential to change the way that healthcare information is gathered, shared, and stored.
Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records are a key component in the modernization of the way that health records are kept. One of the purposes for introducing electronic health records is to eliminate a lot of paperwork and make it much easier for health information to be shared between hospitals, other health care bodies, and insurance companies. Electronic health records, in theory, should be able to reduce the need for duplicate testing that is often ordered by new doctors or specialists who take on a particular patient who has been tested already.
Computerized Physician Order Entry
Computerized Physician Order Entry is being introduced to reduce errors in prescribing medication to patients. Patients are often endangered and may even die as a result of errors in medication. A computerized system of preparing prescriptions should be able to lower the chance of pharmacists making mistakes due to poor handwriting by the physician.
Geographical Information Systems
Much of the health information data that is gathered locally by physicians, clinics, and hospitals is used in aggregate form to determine trends of health and illness in the general population and by region. Geographical information systems are able to analyze enormous volumes of data to highlight trends and create alerts regarding health issues.
Core Electronic Health Records for Disaster Response
Core electronic health records have proven to be very helpful for hospitals that find themselves in the position of having to manage large-scale disasters. These can be updated in real time so they provide a vivid picture of the extent of the disaster and the effectiveness of the response. Later, the records can be studied to learn what the response team did well and identify the areas where some improvements could be implemented. Hospitals and health care providers will benefit from storing virtual data away from their site in case there is a disaster such as a severe hurricane or earthquake.
Decision Support Systems
A decision support database is a form of health care information that can quickly be accessed by a physician to learn the latest research about the best decision to be made in a particular medical situation. If the data has been correctly gathered and analyzed, this should lead to improved results in prescribing medical treatments.
There are currently strong barriers against the wide scale adoption of a standardized health care information management system that would operate uniformly throughout the entire United States. Health care delivery in the United States is exceptionally fragmented and varies state by state and within various levels of government. Private hospitals and health care clinics may create their own internal systems of healthcare information management but they may be completely incompatible with other systems. Another disadvantage is that current reimbursement systems by insurance companies may not reward hospitals and health care providers for improving their systems of sharing information with outside health care providers. This results in a loss of financial incentive to standardize the technology.
Ryan Ayers is a writer that produces articles in the area of health. This article was written to promote continued and further study in this field with a Health Information Management Online Degree.