How Healthcare Informatics Has Changed the Landscape

The merging of medicine with the expanding field of information technology was inevitable, and has brought vast opportunities for improving patient care.

By Infinx
June 25, 2018
12:05 am

The merging of medicine with the expanding field of information technology and communication was inevitable. With an aging population, rising chronic diseases, and the rise of polypharmacy, it is more important than ever that healthcare providers are aware of all the medicines a patient is prescribed to avoid duplicate prescriptions and drug interactions. In this blog, we examine the benefits that healthcare informatics — or simply health informatics — has brought to modern healthcare, and the potential it has to help patients live better lives.

What Is Health Informatics?

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) defines healthcare informatics as a scientific discipline associated with information processing, cognitive and communication tasks of healthcare practice, research, and education. It combines information science and technology to support these tasks. Another definition suggested by AMIA is “health informatics is a science concerned with the management of all aspects of health data and information through the application of computers and computer technology.” In simple words, professionals from the field of health informatics and medicine combine their expertise to enable healthcare organizations to identify data that can improve the process of diagnosis and treatment. The data can also help to develop best healthcare practices.

EHRs Help Improve Access to Healthcare Data

Electronic health records (EHRs), with assistance from mobile medical devices and online patient portals,have helped to resolve this issue. EHRs have tremendously increased the amount of health information available and the speed with which it is communicated. However, we have not evolved as rapidly as the EHRs and are unable to process this vast data efficiently. Too much data can prevent us from making the right decisions at the right time. Health informatics can help us to analyze and process the vast amounts of data collected by EHRs and collate them into useful information, which can then assist in formulating healthcare strategies. Factors such as the rising costs of healthcare, tracking and reporting EHR criteria, and increasing pressure to reduce or eliminate medical errors has driven the transformation of healthcare by health informatics.

The Benefits of Healthcare Informatics

Health informatics encompasses several subspecialties like clinical informatics, nursing informatics, imaging informatics, clinical research informatics, consumer health informatics, public health informatics, and biomedical informatics.

How health informatics has influenced healthcare includes:

  • Communicating with disparate systems: Health informatics collects data not only from clinical systems but also from financial and administrative systems and transcends borders. It then analyzes and harmonizes this disparate data and transforms it into meaningful information which helps improve healthcare processes.
  • Reducing duplication: When integrating data from clinical, administrative, and financial systems, health informatics reduces duplication of processes and identifies opportunities for developing practices to improve the organization’s performance. “Triple Aim”is an initiative developed by the Institute of Healthcare, which involves access, expertise, and evaluation of EHR data, staffing, and financial systems to provide an overview of how patient care and the operational side of healthcare is functioning.
  • Improving patient care: By collecting data from different systems, healthcare informatics ensures that all healthcare providers have updated information of the patient’s health, labwork, and medications. This eliminates the need for patients to repeat their histories to different healthcare providers. By providing patient’s access to their medical records, they can become more engaged in their healthcare, test results and health goals. Patients can also communicate with their healthcare providers/ offices via online portals to resolve their queries.
  • Improving patient care: By collecting data from different systems, healthcare informatics ensures that all healthcare providers have updated information of the patient’s health, labwork, and medications. This eliminates the need for patients to repeat their histories to different healthcare providers. By providing patient’s access to their medical records, they can become more engaged in their healthcare, test results and health goals. Patients can also communicate with their healthcare providers/ offices via online portals to resolve their queries.
  • Improving coordination between healthcare providers: Having access to patient responses to medications, surgery, or treatments provided by other clinicians can help physicians and nurse practitioners identify gaps in treatment, prescribe necessary medications,and initiate rehabilitative services, thereby improving patient care. Clinicians can also communicate more effectively via online EHRs with other physicians and ensure rapid and efficient patient care.
  • Enhancing public health: Epidemiologists and public health providers depend on data to identify healthcare trends and correlate treatments with outcomes in different population groups. Health informatics can create data registries of patients with specific illnesses or chronic conditions, which can then be evaluated by public health professionals to develop better healthcare practices that improve patient care.

Conclusion

In the past, paper charts and poor communication between different healthcare providers, clinicians, and patients led to inefficient care as information about the patient’s diagnosis, lab results, and management plan was not shared effectively. Patients who already suffered from the burden of illness had to repeat their histories at every doctor visit.

Today, health informatics promises a future filled with opportunities for improved care. In response to cybersecurity threats,healthcare organizations have had to develop strong risk management and business development initiatives and protocols that improve healthcare management and governance. With increased amounts of data, health informaticshas been able to identify potential health risks and treat patients with few doctor visits, reducing overall healthcare costs. The ease of global communications through software and electronic devices has also led to greater information sharing, improving the diagnosis and treatment of rare diseases. The improvement of analytical tools may also help physicians to sift through EHR data faster to find answers to patient care problems and save more lives.

About the Author

Infinx

Infinx

Infinx provides innovative and scalable payment lifecycle solutions for healthcare practices. Combining an intelligent, cloud-based platform driven by AI with our trained and certified coding and billing specialists, we help clients realize revenue, enabling them to shift focus from administrative details to billable patient care.

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