Strong health systems are fundamental in ensuring better health outcomes and proper utilization of resources. This approach has made the health care industry to become dependent on information technology to maintain its electronic records. The current health information systems are designated to automate almost all transactions in both clinical and administrative functions. As an informatics nurse specialist, working in a satellite facility, knowledge of appropriate health information system is critical to offer priorities on available resources. The federal government is encouraging health facilities to utilize electronic health records (EHRs) by offering bonuses to hospitals that have adopted the EHR systems. Thus, the health information technology (HIT) has contributed immensely in transforming the health care organizations through patient satisfaction, quality improvement, and reduction in costs.
Technology to Meet Federally Mandated Requirements
Information technology (IT) has played a critical role in enhancing health care provisions in while the demand for health professionals with knowledge in IT is on the rise. However, the executive and the legislative arms of the federal government are encouraging health care organizations to initiate health information technology to facilitate quality and fast health care delivery. The adoption of electronic medical record (EMR) has assisted the health care professionals to remain accountable to patients’ health care status, in addition to enhancing evidence-based care.
The EMRs, which are also referred to as EHRs, are mandated by the federal government to conform to HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act, which promote implementation and meaningful use of HIT. The HITECH Act encourages healthcare providers to demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs to qualify for financial incentives while failure to demonstrate meaningful use of HIT after the stipulated time would attract penalties. The HITECH Act also guarantees that matters of privacy and security of patients during transmission of electronic information are observed.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) incorporates security rules that safeguard protected health information from unauthorized users. The act compels health care organizations to enhance confidentiality, integrity and security of patient information through encrypting the EHRs.
My project committee in the designing of health information system for underserved populations will incorporate the following interdisciplinary members:
- Chief medical officer
- Acute nurse manager
- Medical record manager
- Laboratory supervisor
The chief medical officer (COM) should be proficient in computerized management systems to assist the committee inside information concerning the system. The COM will answer all questions concerning implementation of the system during training, in addition to informing other doctors on how to utilize the system. The COM will offer his/her opinion on the best system in underdeveloped hospital facilities, based on the available resources.
An acute nurse manager is essential due to his/her closeness with other staff nurses, who will be primary users of the health information system. Apart from answering questions concerning the implementation of the system, an acute nurse manager will assist in recognizing potential threats to the system. Additionally, the acute nurse manager would assist other physicians in adopting the system and overcoming the resistance.
Medical records manager serves as health information manager in maintaining patient data, in addition to supervising employees within the health information department. In this project, the medical records manager will assist members in understanding the scope of technical support that is required to implement the system. Being an expert in HIPAA rules, the medical records managers will ensure that the security of the system is intact and patient confidentiality is strictly observed.
The Laboratory supervisor is expected to utilize the health information system regularly; hence, his/her contribution is vital to ascertain whether the system is capable of meeting its functional needs. He/she should make sure that the system is always up to the current standards. Laboratory supervisor is also a medical technician who understands the computerized health systems, thus, the responsibility of training other laboratory staff will be left to him/her.
Each member in the project committee is vital for the success of the health information system because he/she is qualified his his/her respective field. While the COM decides on the best system based on the environment, the acute nurse manager assists other nurses in adopting the system. The medical records manager maintains the rules of electronic system while the laboratory supervisor suggests on the best time to update the system.
Interoperability in Health Care Delivery
Interoperability in health care involves sharing and exchange of data by health care professionals to enhance effective delivery of health care services to individuals, as well as communities. Interoperability enables exchange of different information through communications technology systems, where software applications are utilized to exchange data effectively and accurately (Iroju, et al., 2013). Interoperability necessitates easy access to patient records by different care givers. Patient information can be distributed across the entire health care organization through a heterogeneous system, thus, enhancing patient needs. When care givers share information across a health care system, the capacity to understand certain terminologies and concept is passed from one system to the other. Standardized nursing terminologies are essential when capturing nursing-specific data because they assist in eliminating medical errors, in addition to allowing interoperability within disparate systems.
Recent Federal Regulatory Requirements for HIS
Recently, some federal regulations have been implemented to guide on health information system. The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) was enacted through the FDA in 2012 to offer risk-based regulatory structure for health IT, which include mobile applications that safeguard patient safety and regulate medical software (Weaver, et al., 2016). The FDASIA promotes innovation that enhances patient access to risk-free products. Another federal regulatory requirement is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that was passed in 2010, which necessitates, among other things, the health care facilities to adopt health IT systems to facilitate storage, analysis, and generation of patient health information. The health IT system is capable of advancing the quality of health services and, consequently, reducing health care costs.
Potential Security Threats to the Health Information System
Just like any information system, a healthcare information system is usually threatened by accidental events, as well as intentional actions by individuals or groups, leading to unreliability of the system. Computer viruses are the most widespread forms of threat to patient data and other health care applications (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2013). Such viruses are spread through social media, thus, risking the immunity of health information systems. The emergence of so many mobile gadgets has also increased security risks, particularly when the healthcare professionals fail to upgrade their systems.
Information technology has become consumer friendly where users have adopted their own devices to access healthcare information. Guaranteeing the security of health information system necessitates measures to safeguard against unauthorized use, as well as disclosure of protected information. Use of passwords and PIN numbers can restrict admission to patient information, and allow only nurses and doctors to gain access to patient information. The medical records managers should encrypt all data and ensure that the transfer of patient information is carried out in a secured communication lines.
The industry standards for protecting data integrity, as well as mitigating risks against health information systems include the HIPAA privacy and security rule, which recommends implementation of a risk management program to define responses to health issues. System backups can facilitate in monitoring and protecting data accessibility. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has implemented standards that offer solutions to privacy and integrity of patient information.
Implications of Current and Emerging Technologies
Healthcare information technologies are largely contributing towards effective health care provisions, particularly in remote areas. Where health care professionals are rare, non-clinical applications, such as social media, are utilized to enhance physician-patient connection. Social media is essential in sharing health information, which can be utilized by clinicians in remote regions. Self-service kiosk is another form of non-clinical technology, which involves delivering information through telecommunication technologies, where patients can access information on registration without assistance from anyone. Self-service kiosks enable patients to check identifications and other registration requirements without attending the nearest healthcare facilities.
Some of the clinical applications that have assisted in delivery of patient care around remote satellite facilities include telemedicine and digestible sensors. Telemedicine involves utilizing medical information by exchanging it from one site to the next through electronic communications to enhance patient’s clinical health status (Yeow & Huat Goh, 2015). Digestible sensors offer health care experts information concerning the human body, as well as how treatment solutions work in various body organs. Digestive sensors transmit patient information from one healthcare professional to another; hence, customizing care to individuals experiencing same health ailments.
The use of HIT has become vital in health care environment, as it has helped in eliminating medical errors, reducing costs, and enhancing patient outcomes. The ultimate intention of HIT is to assist health professionals to make better decisions, regardless of their role in the health care organizations. Implementing healthcare information technology can be quite difficult, particularly in remote regions, due to costs and poor technology adoption. The recent use of clinical and non-clinical technology has been helpful to clinicians who work in remote sites, as they can access patient information through interoperability. Although numerous risks have emerged in the use of HIT, healthcare professionals have been able to save lives, regardless of the distance between them and the patients.
Iroju, O., Soriyan, A., Gambo, I., & Olaleke, J. (2013). Interoperability in healthcare: benefits, challenges and resolutions. International Journal of Innovation and Applied Studies, 3(1), 262-270.
Wager, K. A., Lee, F. W., & Glaser, J. P. (2013). Health care information systems: A practical approach for health care management. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Weaver, C. A., Ball, M. J., Kim, G. R., & Kiel, J. M. (2016). Healthcare information management systems: Cases, strategies, and solutions. Cham, Zug: Springer
Yeow, A., & Huat Goh, K. (2015). Work Harder Or Work Smarter? Information Technology and Resource Allocation in Healthcare Processes. MIS Quarterly, 39(4), 763-785