Archive for May 1st, 2013

The Role of the Health Care Informatics Professional

May 1, 2013

The future of the health care informatics arena is unfolding every day with the implementation of electronic health record systems and other technologies designed to assist with the delivery of patient care. The need will be clearly identified for health care professionals and providers to obtain the knowledge to use information technology effectively. Health care informatics is a rapidly developing scientific field utilizing computer technology. Determining how health data is collected, stored, and communicated and how that data is processed to assist in clinical decisions and how automated technology can be used in process improvements, will be a major focus for health care informatists. Some health care organizations are slow to understand the benefits of creating health care informatics positions within their environments. However, I believe the health care organizations will continue to discover the value in creating such positions. As these organizations move towards electronic health records, the need for these skilled individuals will become evident. I see the role of the health care informatics professional bridging the gap between IT personnel, administrators, and communication to end-users, and somewhat taking on the role similar to that of a business analyst. They will become the knowledgeable individual to make sense of all the business requirements, stakeholder needs, end-user perspectives, and areas of improving efficiencies; then being able to deliver this message. They must work in partnership with all those who support the endeavors of creating a user friendly, financially efficient, clinical decision support, health care system, and assisting with resolving issues. The health care informatists must be proficient in information literature, with researching technology and methods to incorporate into the health care environment. Health care informatics applications can be used to improve the quality of patient care, to increase productivity, and to provide access to knowledge. In summary, my analogy is that health care is synonymous with people; thereby, continuing to identify the needs of the health care consumer and providing all measures of keeping them safe, informed, and educated must be an ongoing priority. I believe the future of the health care informatist is going to exponentially grow and develop into an exciting area for those who delve into the middle of the technology pool, to decipher the best means of providing health care information, quality patient care, improving best practices of care, and improving operational efficiencies. It is difficult to summarize such an exciting field of study; however, I especially appreciate the following quote and perhaps this sums it up very well: “If physiology literally means ‘the logic of life’, and pathology is ‘the logic of disease’, then health informatics is the logic of healthcare. It is the rational study of the way we think about patients, and the way that treatments are defined, selected, and evolved. It is the study of how clinical knowledge is created, shaped, shared, and applied. Ultimately, it is the study of how we organize ourselves to create and run healthcare organizations.” – Coiera E. Guide to Health Informatics. London:Hodder, 2003.

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Why Standards?

May 1, 2013

We encounter standards everyday in our lives. From traffic lights, traffic signs, telephone key pads, keyboards, postal envelopes and paper sizes to the many areas of construction such as sizes of appliances, tools, wood, windows, and the list could go on. So, why are standards established? The term standard is defined as an established norm or requirement; it establishes uniform or technical criteria, methods, processes, and practices. Standards enhance the capability to improve production and decrease costs associated with creating the end product. By establishing standards this enables companies to increase workflows and efficiencies. When a customer or end user learns the rules or knows the standards, this allows them to become proficient and knowledgeable in the use of the tool or issue at hand. For instance, when a person drives to another state, the traffic signs and signals are the same or standardized across the nation. One does not need to re-learn traffic signs for every different place they drive. Established standards that are implemented and followed in health care environments increases the quality of care, workflow processes, saves the organization money, and ultimately improving patient safety and patient outcomes. Benefits and improvements affecting the delivery of care will be evident when standards are adopted internally by health care organizations, whether developed for the betterment of the organization or by regulatory agencies. Process improvements will be identified with the implementation of standards. Obtaining high quality data and information and maintaining the integrity of the data comes from using recognized standards. As the implementation of the electronic health record is an initiative and included in strategic plans in many health care organizations today, standards are necessary. Defining standards will assist in improving the extremely complex arena of health care data, information, and information management.

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