Health information management and systems

I have chosen to do my research paper on Health Information Management and Systems as it is closely related to future career goals and in my current course of study for my Associates Degree in Medical Information Technology. I have always been drawn to the medical field and was a C.N.A (certified nursing assistant) for 12 years, and now I am looking to further my career and direct my sights to a more technical position in the medical field and will be looking to gain employment as a Medical Billing/Coding Specialist. I was very surprised to learn about what it takes to create a Health Information Management System and all the other forms of Information Systems that it takes to create a proper Health Information System. In my paper I will do my best to explain Health Information Management and Systems, their history, and their practical uses in today’s healthcare industry.

“Health Information Management: Professional Definition: Developed by the 1999 and 2000 Committees on Professional Development. Health information management improves the quality of healthcare by insuring that the best information is available to make any healthcare decision. Health information management professionals manage healthcare data and information resources. The profession encompasses services in planning, collecting, aggregating, analyzing, and disseminating individual patient and aggregate clinical data. It serves the healthcare industry including: patient care organizations, payers, research and policy agencies, and other healthcare-related industries.” (Developed by the 1999 and 2000 Committees on Professional Development)

The purpose of Healthcare Information Management Systems is to essentially provide cost effective solutions to speed up the patient care process, reduce the possibility of medical errors, improve a facility’s productivity which in turn will increase the businesses operations and essentially increase revenue for that facility. The first computer use in the healthcare industry was in the early 1960’s when just a handful of hospitals started their attempt to ‘automate’ some of their day to day business. These started with payroll and patient accounts and were run on huge mainframes that took up large amounts of space. These systems didn’t really have much to do with patient care besides some availability to inpatient records but were not available until after the patient had already been discharged. Then in the 1970’s came the advancement of technology providing smaller, cheaper systems and applications that were available for use in a wider variety of settings such as hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and physicians offices. These applications became available to manage patient accounting, scheduling, general accounting, practice management and inventory tracking. Then in the 1980’s came about the PC (personal computers) which were much more affordable and even smaller but with storage capacities equal to or larger than that of the huge mainframes of the past. A huge improvement was the introduction of networks where systems could link to one another making it possible to share and collaborate information. With this came several companies designing software that were capable of handling both administrative and clinical functions. With all these advancements, the PC was a standard in most doctors’ offices. Then in the 1990’s major changes in healthcare with managed care and the major health reform at hand, a lot of attention was directed at developing healthcare information and support systems to assist in achieving the best possible care to patients while maintaining cost effectiveness. The use of the internet made it possible for healthcare providers to communicate on a large scale with other provider’s i.e… clinics, labs, hospitals etc. thus improving the overall care of the patients and streamlining the business functions of facilities.

These systems include a vast array of information. It is the collection of this information in electronic format and the tools used to interpret and utilize that information so that is useful to not only the provider but the patient and ultimately the general consumer in the long run. This information is obtained from many sources including the patient, their healthcare providers and anyone else who is closely attributing to the welfare of that patient. These systems include numerous features including but not limited to the ability to look at a person’s personal health data, to send and receive messages with other providers, appointment scheduling, prescription renewals, and to enter a patients overall information such as age, weight, race, current health complaint, current medications, previous complaints and treatments, nursing care notes, previous procedures, lab reports, x-rays, etc., the list goes on…

There is a push for a ‘Global health information system’ that makes it possible for all members in the healthcare industry to access a patient’s medical information from wherever it may be needed at that current time. This ‘Global Chart’ will be constantly updated with all the current information attained about the patient and will not just be available to the healthcare providers but also the patient. This system will be able to communicate with all the current healthcare information systems that are in use today. To date there are over 250 different healthcare information systems in use and that in it-self creates a problem. Trying to get each of those 250 different systems to communicate and collaborate with one another efficiently and effectively and that’s where this ‘Global health information system’ steps in. This new system will eliminate the need for different systems and make it a universal system creating a manageable and useful electronic format that can be used anywhere in the world.

It is obvious that a proper healthcare information system is advantageous to both the patient and the healthcare providers involved in their care. Without it, it would be almost impossible to collaborate and manage a patient’s well being and preventing what could be life altering and/or life threatening medical errors, while maintaining a functioning and profitable healthcare business. For all those involved we can only hope that a completely interoperable system is put into place not just for those of us here in the United States but for those that live in less developed and under privileged countries where it seems there is a lack of a ‘system’ and where healthcare itself is lacking.