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Healthcare Management: Past, Present, and Future

The Health Information System (HIS) is a relatively interesting invention in the field of healthcare. It refers to a framework for handling health records. Researchers note that it is a “hardware, software, integrated technologies or related licenses, intellectual property, upgrades, or packaged solutions sold as services that are designed for or support the use by healthcare entities or patients for the electronic creation, maintenance, access, or exchange of health information” (Zeng, 2009, para. 1). In other words, it is a complex system that includes a number of different processes. For example, gathering, processing, maintaining and transmitting the electronic medical records (EMR) of patients, the organizational control of hospitals or the support network for policy decisions regarding healthcare. While such structures became an essential part of work in every hospital, it has numerous implementations. The primary purpose of these systems is holding patient’s information which helps to fulfil the administration function of a medical facility.

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History of Healthcare Information Systems

The history of HIS in the United States is not particularly long. According to Gillum (2013), it “can be traced back from the nineteenth century when clinical medical records were formalized to document treatment, management, and outcomes of care” (p. 853). Over the past few years, HISs have been transformed into digital systems, while paperwork became obsolete. Researchers state that only in 1960s hospitals acquired computers in order to fulfil administrative duties (Collen & Ball, 2015). A decade later, when devices advanced and became smaller, hospital departments began to implement more complex frameworks, but the progress never stopped. Throughout the 1980s, not only more HISs were produced, but their capabilities also grew. For example, in such systems, small computers could be connected to the main device, which allowed holding an enormous amount of data from different clinical stations.

In the current days a number of new standards developed along with technologies. Healthcare information systems are widely used in a clinical setting. There is a variety of functions that they can carry out, for instance, data collection, monitoring staff’s performance for improving the quality of their services. Moreover, they can also be responsible for billing, coding, patient throughput and management of materials and resources. All of these functions are essential for ensuring positive organizational outcomes.

Why Adopt A HIS?

The advantages of healthcare information systems are apparent since they include cost-effectiveness, great processing capabilities, responsiveness, and ability to create digital archives and an unlimited number of copies. There is a number of reasons why HISs should be implemented in every hospital. The most obvious one is the need to acquire and analyze clinical data. Such systems are able to accurately process, store and transmit information obtained on various diagnostic devices, which will greatly improve the performance of doctors and other medical staff. Another important reason for implementing HISs is to systematize data for all patients. By using a large number of automated algorithms, it becomes possible not only to gather high-quality data but also to visualize it and provide information for medical professionals. Moreover, healthcare information systems allow doctors to create an effective treatment plan for diseases in a quick manner.

Healthcare Information System Applications

However, as the development of these management systems continues, a number of new devices and applications is created. For example, one of the most popular HISs includes Electronic Medical Record (EMR). It contains computerized records of patient’s medical history. However, unlike its paper predecessor, it can also hold test results and treatments. Another advantage of EMR is its ability to exchange data with other electronic health devices. Such function provides an effect that can have a significant positive impact on doctors’ performance since it allows other healthcare providers to obtain data from patients.

Another information system that can be integrated into a clinical setting is ITSM service support. According to Glandon et al. (2013), it has a number of useful functions, for example: tracking problems and incidents, as well as managing activities involving the release of new applications or operating systems. The obvious advantage of ITSM is that it can guarantee easy access to IT-services and even in unforeseen circumstances, for example, natural disasters that can potentially disrupt healthcare services.

The third type of healthcare information system applications is referred to as Information System Research (ISR). Researchers note that such devices are capable of empowering not only medical staff but also patients as well. It can be explained by the fact that they play the role of major information sources; however, it also comes with several issues. For example, Schnall et al. (2016) argue that “current approaches for the delivery of health information through the use of information technologies have not been well tested and there has been limited work especially using a mobile platform” (p. 250). It means that further research is needed in order to ensure the effectiveness of the system before implementing it in a clinical setting.

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Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats

The current state of health information systems is debatable, as it has a number of strengths and weaknesses. The most obvious advantage is the fact that they help to gather, organize and analyze data. That function allows managing health of the community while also reducing costs for the hospital. Another benefit is the ability to provide patients with an opportunity to be treated by different healthcare providers since they have access to health records. Moreover, they also help to control costs by making the process of exchanging data more efficient. In addition, since HISs can collect and analyze patients’ data, they are also capable of determining health trends.

Nevertheless, there are several problems regarding the use of such systems. For instance, the main problem of healthcare networks is the lack of technical equipment. This problem is explained by the difficulties in financing, which sometimes results in reducing the quality of applications. It is evident since, in order to purchase a large number of computers and office equipment, a hospital has to save on its quality. Other issues include ethical concerns as sometimes the availability and the security of saved data is questionable.

The problem described above also creates a threat for healthcare facilities since they should be responsible for information safety. In cases where records have been somehow leaked or lost, the consequences may be harmful not only for a hospital’s reputation but for patients’ security as well. Nevertheless, the opportunities certainly outbalance such a risk since the implementation of HISs offers opportunities to reduce medical errors, boost the hospital’s performance and overall the quality of provided healthcare.

In conclusion, it would appear that despite all risks and possible disadvantages, healthcare information systems can still be effective in managing a hospital’s work. There is no doubt that the development and implementing of HISs is a complex process. Nevertheless, due to constant technological growth, it is possible to diminish such disadvantages and increase the performance of managing systems. They are definitely helpful in monitoring various aspects of medical work and are capable of improving the patients’ outcomes.

References

Collen, M. F., & Ball, M. J. (2015). The history of medical informatics in the United States. Springer.

Gillum, R. (2013). From papers to the electronic tablet: A brief history of the clinical medical record with lessons for the digital age. American Journal of Medicine, 126(10), 853–857.

Glandon, G. L., Slovensky, D. J., & Smaltz, D. H. (2013). Information systems for healthcare management. Health Administration Press.

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Schnall, R., Rojas, M., Bakken, S., Brown, W., Carballo-Dieguez, A., Carry, M., Gelaude, D., Mosely, J.P., & Travers, J. (2016). A user-centered model for designing consumer mobile health (mHealth) applications (apps). Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 60, 243-251.

Zeng, X. (2009). Redefining the roles of health information management professionals in health information technology. Perspectives in Health Information Management, 6.

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