Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare Informatics Standardization’

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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Progress, Change, Future

January 22, 2012

The future of healthcare information systems and a career in healthcare informatics holds exciting opportunities for healthcare organizations. Many improvements will be made in current technologies available. Although the concept of the electronic medical record (EMR) has been around for quite some time, we are just starting to see some advances in the actual implementation of automating portions of the patient medical record. To get to a fully automated health record, where all aspects of the legal medical record communicate to all systems, seems like a daunting task and yet so exciting to be a part of during these times. A career as a healthcare informatics professional will continue to be a desired profession and will gain momentum in the value these professionals will bring to an organization. Identifying their roles and responsibilities will become unique to each organization’s needs. Because of the many abilities and knowledge of healthcare informatics professionals, one healthcare facility may utilize these professionals in a different way and environment than another facility. Perhaps if there is not a developed informatics department, these professionals may even have different reporting structures based on where the organization sees them contributing and fitting into the organizational chart for that particular facility. The healthcare informatics field of study will be fundamental to bridging the gap between Information Technology Departments, Administration, clinical staff, physicians, vendors, and end-users. These positions are knowledgeable in a vast amount of areas, such as: information literacy, human computer interaction, human factors, usability testing, project management, working as change agents, standardizing language, evidence-based healthcare, numerous types of computer software such as database systems and spreadsheets. One cannot argue the fact that these knowledgeable individuals have developed skills, which bring much value to an organization. If these positions are utilized, directed, and supported, they will be extremely beneficial within a healthcare facility. Implementing, supporting, and maintaining an EMR is progress for any organization. The power of progress is amazing and builds upon each generation’s knowledge. Suppose each new generation had to rediscover numerals or language or medicine. The world would see no progress. Each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous generation to reach higher. Therefore, change is the price we pay for progress, and the EMR will bring about change for healthcare organizations. Change itself is not progress; it is the price we pay for progress. We will see some of the most advanced technology and the quest for a fully developed electronic health record will begin to take hold. As generations replace older generations an environment of automation will be expected and accepted by healthcare consumers and healthcare providers.

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Standardized Language in Healthcare

November 18, 2011

As the electronic health record (EHR) becomes increasingly utilized across the nation, a standardized language will need to be implemented and followed. This will improve more accurate billing, informed patient management, increased precision of documentation, and improve knowledge. Functioning without standards would be chaotic, out of control, and confusing to all individuals. Standardization proves to enhance any process. With the strategic organizational initiatives of many physician offices, clinics, medical centers, and hospitals to implement an automated electronic environment for documenting a patient’s health history, which then automate other processes, the need increases for the uniformity of a language. The downside of the uncontrolled terminology of medicine has been accentuated by the computer age, because without standard vocabulary the ability to acquire knowledge about healing professions through information technology is limited. Many clinical applications available today have restricted utility because they cannot understand each other. It seems with the urgency of healthcare facilities implementing EMRs, the development of a standard language is critical and needs to be on a fast track to develop solutions. Healthcare information system developers are not waiting for the standards bodies, in existence today, to make these determinations. These developers know that precise medical words are needed to analyze the information from automated medical records, which will improve quality and service in healthcare. Rather than use any existing clinical vocabulary standard, they are creating their own dictionaries or vocabulary sets. Although this represents a slight improvement over un-encoded or free text documentation, each vendor working in isolation, are creating a terminology which cannot be read or understood by other systems. This makes the potential of data exchange and comparing impossible. It is imperative that healthcare organizations, vendors, and government agencies work collaboratively to implement measures to effectively localize, update, and disseminate healthcare terminologies, mappings, and other terminology-related content currently issued by national and international standards bodies. A standardized language in healthcare is something of a monumental task, but one that needs dedicated professionals in establishing these standards. Although some standard languages exist, developed by various standards organizations, the need is paramount of unifying a standardized language. Controlled medical terminology is essential to maximize the true benefits of implementing a fully operational EMR. Additionally, if all physicians, nurses, patients, hospitals, clinics, payers, and government agencies would commit to the same healthcare language, the one who unquestionably benefits from this is the patient who can be any one of us.

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