The Need for Standardization. Is it necessary?


It is interesting in beginning to study this module within Dr. Johnson’s course the mixed feelings on the need for standardization in health care informatics. I have watched with only a fleeting interest the continual exchanges about this topic on the CARING list serve. It did not seem an important issue to me however in reading the information in this module I have begun to develop a different attitude regarding these issues.
It is a bit mind boggling when one looks at all of the disciplines involved in healthcare and how they enter into the process of healthcare informatics. This collaboration does muddy the waters in effect when looking at standards.
An example was given early on in the readings of the standard gauge for railroads as 4feet 8.5 inches, which was the standard width of the Roman chariot. It is easy to see how the standard was created out of an early necessity for the railroad rails to fit the rail cars, which were built at the same width as a chariot.
In looking at setting standards for healthcare informatics the process is complicated by the number of players on the field so to speak. You have standards for physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacist and many more clinical disciplines. You then add into the mix the standards for the support staff such as health information staff, bioengineering, housekeeping, buildings and grounds, electricians, purchasing, information systems and communication services. Each of these disciplines has not only their own standards but also standards for the products they use or install as a part of their job in assisting directly or indirectly with patient care.
The health care informatics professional interacts with all of these disciplines in some capacity in order to provide computer technology to improve the delivery of patient care. When one considers the chaordic nature of this process it is easy to see that standards must be developed to attempt to communicate effectively with all disciplines involved as well as with outside entities nationally and internationally especially in the advent of electronic medical records. It is also easy to see what a difficult task this is in trying to bring together all of the existing standards to one unified standard for healthcare informatics.

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