Roles of the Healthcare Informatics Professional

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I found the information on the history of health care informatics and future roles of informatics professionals very interesting.

We have become so immersed in technology in such a short time. My husband and I were discussing last evening how when he decided to replace his computer 4 years ago we were keeping the old computer for the sole purpose of using it for games since that was pretty much the only reason I used the computer. He used his only to track his business on a very basic spreadsheet. We have since that time expanded to 2 PC’s, 2 laptops, a notebook and computer access on our cell phones. We use computers daily for business, communication, computation, finances and bill paying and of course computer games.
In reading the history of the evolution of computers it was surprising in many ways. We often forget that computer technology has been used for several decades, crude and massive as those first computers were. Few of the general public was even aware of their existence or use. We have since evolved to smaller, faster and more sophisticated computers. It is rare to talk with people who do not use computers in some capacity in their daily life. My father first began using email at 60 years old and enjoyed using the Internet until his death 6 years later. My mother refused to learn and at 77 years old is still fighting use of computers. She is constantly amazed at how common place the use of computers is in everyday life and does on occasion use them in the grocery store and doctors offices.  Computers are not only used in all aspects of my job but I use them continuously in my daily life. I can no longer imagine a life without them.

I found it interesting in reading these chapters how they talked about the eventual realization of Internet access on cell phones. In the 7 years since this book (Health Care Informatics, An Interdisciplinary Approach, 2002) was published Internet access on cell phones has become common place. As noted in Moore’s law the processing power of the transistor chip doubles every 18 months. Computer technology is advancing at an alarming rate making it difficult at times to keep up with these advances.

Of course all of this advancement has greatly changed to roles of the healthcare informatics professional. I have been at my hospital for 27 years. When I first came to the hospital we had an IS staff of 2, one for hardware and one for software. We now have an IS staff of over 50 with analyst, programmers, hardware implementation and maintenance and software developers as well as integration specialist.  Not only have the number of roles increased but the responsibilities included in each of these roles have greatly expanded.

In reading the information on standards as well as educational changes it is evident how these roles have expanded. The healthcare informatics professional must understand the needs of clinicians, patients and support staff. They must also be aware of the standards affecting all of the aspects of healthcare and keep up to date on these standards. There has been a great shift in the education of all healthcare professionals to incorporate the use of computers in the delivery of healthcare. In working on implementations not only with clinicians but with support staff I am often surprised at the capacity for staff to adapt and learn new systems. Even those who are resistant to change are able to adapt and make these changes.
The role of the healthcare informatics professional is constantly changing. This can be daunting at times however I find it also exciting. We are in the midst of a revolution of change and I enjoy being in the thick of things.

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