Health care informatics standards are established in order to collect, maintain, and transfer data between computer systems. Not only do the standards provide interoperability that supports effective communication and facilitates decision making, but they also improve the overall quality and continuity of patient care. Interoperability makes possible seamless care delivery across traditional organizational boundaries (Professional Record Standards Body, 2018).
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The field of health informatics standards evolved since the 1960s when ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) developed guidelines for electronic health record (EHR) systems and data content. Currently, there is no national standards-setting group, that is why standards coordination and promotions activities are performed by both voluntary and professional organizations. The given essay explains and evaluates content and structure standards and the code of ethics in health care informatics in relation to its applications and operations.
Content and structure standards that are currently being developed should govern both the design of the EHR and the Computer-Based Oral Health Record (COHR). In particular, the standards are to identify the content and logical structure of the EHR and relate them to the documentation which is used by the US health care system. Nowadays, there are guides elaborated by the ASTM which describe a common data model of the EHR and discuss of which elements should the EHR consist.
Speaking of the code of ethics, it governs principles and values that form the basis of the healthcare professionals practice. This set of standards has been developed by professional organizations, such as AHIMA, ANA, IEEE, which regularly review the code.
It is difficult to overestimate the impact of content and structure standards on the healthcare system, as they are expected to facilitate shared care and enable interoperability between care settings. Apart from that, the given set of technical standards may improve management and planning of services. Regarding the informatics applications, the codes are going to be a complete guide for the EHR systems implementation which is encouraged by the HITECH Act (Compliancy Group, 2018).
In this relation, the chosen group of technical standards is to serve as the foundation of the EHR systems by addressing their key components. For example, according to Englebardt and Nelson (2005), the ASTM E1384-99e1 standard has been chosen as a guide for the deployment of the EHR for several health care systems. They include the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound and the Veterans Affairs Administration.
When evaluating the impact of the code of ethics on health care systems and informatics applications, one may note that this set of standards regulates the ethical aspect of the work of health care professionals. Even though they may not utilize it on a daily basis, the code of ethics is an integral component of decision making and professional conduct. Statutes and regulations that incorporate the code of ethics set licensure requirements to which health care professionals should adhere in order to maintain professional licenses. There is a particular set of ethical standards elaborated for health care informatics that regulates the ethical behavior required of workers who deal with information.
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Healthcare operations include activities aimed at improving supporting core functions of a health care facility. It is possible to state that the content and structure standards may be of help in facilitating some of the health care operations. Since this set of technical guidelines governs several important aspects associated with the implementation of the EHR, one may assume that financial, quality, and administrative operations may be improved.
If the content and structure of the EHR are comprehensively developed, the overall quality of health care will be enhanced, as well as the productivity of the healthcare personnel. The effective exchange of health data between disparate electronic health record systems may be enabled by the content and structure standards. This, in turn, will help physicians provide patients with better care due to access to old medical records. Also, administrative staff will no longer need to write in the charts and perform billing tasks. Nurses will not have to do the paperwork, that is why they will have much time for direct patient care.
One may note that the code of ethics relates to the quality of functional health care operations. In particular, this set of standards is important in the deployment of the EHRs by promoting language mandating protection of patient privacy and patient information confidentiality (Englebardt & Nelson, 2005). When using the EHR systems, the healthcare personnel should follow the principles of “privacy, openness, security, access, legitimate infringement” to avoid unauthorized access and keep patients’ data safe (Samuel & Zaïane, 2014, para. 9).
The code of ethics may be used in resolving ethical issues between the staff and patients, stakeholders and administration. These standards of health informatics determine how to ethically utilize up-to-date technologies in healthcare practice. The code of ethics also provides guidance about mandated ethical reporting, as credentialing processes are established to verify professional licenses of healthcare employees.
To sum up, healthcare informatics standards have been developed in order to support interoperability between different health care systems and govern various aspects of their functioning to improve the overall quality of care. Content and structure standards and the code of ethics have been discussed regarding their impact on healthcare systems and informatics applications. These standards have been assessed in relation to functional health care operations.
Compliancy Group. (2018). What is the HITECH Act? Web.
Englebardt, S. P., & Nelson, R. (2005). Health care informatics: An interdisciplinary approach. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
Professional Record Standards Body. (2018). PRCB standards for the structure and content of health and care records. Web.
Samuel, H. W., & Zaïane, O. R. (2014). A repository of codes of ethics and technical standards in health informatics. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 6(2). Web.