|Type of paper:||Research proposal|
|Categories:||Research Healthcare policy Public health|
Worldwide, health is still administered in many aspects the same way that it was a hundred years ago. The state of health is in great contrast to other industries that have adopted advances in technology and other sectors such as human understanding to boost their own efficiency. A case in point is the tourism industry which has adopted best practices from other sectors of the economy in a bid to improve its own service delivery. This research paper, however, restricts itself to one particular sub-sector of the health industry; health informatics.
Health informatics makes use of health records to engineer positive outcomes for both patients and health practitioners. The field is relatively new in health and not well adopted into the national health care systems in an adequate manner. The main concern around health is the inability of health personnel to make use of a patient's data when administering a patient (Bakken, S. 2013, 200). Cases do currently exist of patients that have an allergy towards specific drugs that a different physician may not be aware of at the time.
Additionally, patients have cases of pre-occurring conditions that may influence the choice of diagnosis that they need. Although the health personnel acts in good faith, the lack of information about a particular patient greatly impairs their judgement and final diagnosis. In the same vein, a family history makes it easier for medical personnel to evaluate patients directly with an emphasis on those conditions. For example, if a family has a case of a hereditary condition, the physician at hand can first seek to eliminate the possibility of the condition re-occurring before testing for other diseases.
As a result, the research paper seeks to widen the current reach and scope of health informatics by providing a frame work that bridges multiple bio-data about an individual. The data must however be relevant to health.
In the United States, Congress adopted the Health Information Exchange that seeks to promote "the safe sharing and coordinated use of health information between institutions using federally approved interoperability standards at a local state-level." The program provided a legal framework under which health institutions at a local and federal level could organize their health platforms to intermarry with those of others in a given particular region. The main reason for rolling out the program was the choice and clear path that it gave to institutions under a safe umbrella.
The act is a streamlining of health informatics into the mainstream in clearly defined channels that are easily recognizable. The local element of the program meant that it places an emphasis on finding local solutions rather than rolling out a national plan for the integration of all health institutions that have a first-person interaction with patients. Another key component of the act is its insistence on flexibility as a key component in health informatics. The plan is primarily organized from a federal level of government.
Each state has a HIC (health informatics coordinator) who oversees the coordination of different health institutions across the state. However, the presence of the HIC does not mean that the program is centralized. On the contrary, it adopts a two-tier system in most states with community-driven initiatives being one of them. On the other hand, there are also enterprise entities that are provided the space in law to create their own health informatics ecosystems that best suit their needs.
In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service does not encompass a robust health informatics policy initiative and every health center in an area has to make its own plans with respect to information sharing. The age-old method of the patient disclosing every bit of information to the medical practitioner still exists. The current model of health informatics under the act of Congress does not make it mandatory for any health facility in states to participate in the program. Localities are left to pick and choose while also determining their respective ways of correspondence. The backbone of health informatics is the sending and receiving of messages across multiple devices and health institutions. The alerts and SMS's are synchronized within the state borders to be in tandem with each other.
As earlier outlined, one of the main reasons for the persistence of the old order was the assumption that patients are health literate. In definition, it means that individuals are fully aware of their health condition and are able to make sense of information and data concerning themselves. The healthcare record of a patient can be very long depending on his medical history and age at any given point. Additionally, other factors come into play in determining a patient understanding of his health condition. Such factors include his level of education, level of income, socio-cultural background and other determinants.
Currently, the adoption of health informatics is rather mild and does not cover the full scale of its potential with the adoption of technology, information available, and personnel.
Implementation and Design
Health informatics is a broad term that encompasses all aspects of computer and information technology to cater for multiple aspects within the health industry. As other sectors continuously shift to higher levels of automation in a bid to seek better services, the health sector can increase its efficiency by also following suit. Electronic health records on health informatics are not only available to patients and health personnel but also to third parties such as insurance companies.
What the research seeks to create is a health information management system that centers on the patient and health provider and seeks to not encompass third-party actors. The health outcome of the process will determine its viability as a suitable alternative to the current system under use. In the United States, every citizen born within its jurisdiction is issued with a social security number that acts as the first biometric piece of information about their existence. The social security number is a form of identification that denotes their information within the federal information system.
The healthcare information of an infant from the time of birth is stored locally with the healthcare provider or the guardian. Healthcare information is a source of policy initiatives and a source for other secondary uses such as direct patient care, reimbursement, patient safety, legal issues, healthcare policy, quality improvement, public health, bio-surveillance, and healthcare cost containment.
With the growth of cloud computing, sharing and spread of information is scheduled to become seamless. Information keyed in into one computer can be accessed with ease at another geographical location. In 2015, congress passed the Affordable Healthcare Act that sought to make healthcare available to all citizens at a relatively cheap cost. The act ropes in other sectors of the economy that did not participate in the provision of healthcare and require small to medium-scale businesses to provide health insurance to their employees.
The Affordable Care Act makes use of economies of scale to reduce the cost of healthcare provision. By having more people paying premiums, the act creates a pool for health insurers to spread risk. Similarly, a Healthcare Information System models its mode of operation through a cost reduction initiative (Embi, P., & Payne, P. 2011, 179). The program, like the Affordable Care Act has to be rolled out on a national level in order to have a meaningful and intended impact.
All the health information of an individual will be required to be uploaded online onto a national system besides their biometric information. Additionally, their family history is input alongside their data to create co-relations that can be found through basic computing and use of modern-day algorithms. The health information system in the design encompasses various sectors of the economy with a heavy reliance on the technology industry. Any medical practitioner who administers healthcare needs to input the data after revising the previous information about the patient.
The current single coverage insurance premiums for healthcare in the United States is $ 440 on a monthly basis. The amount nearly triples to $1,168 for a family unit. Without insurance, the consultation fees for seeing a doctor in the country averages to between $150 and $200. In the design implementation, the presence of a healthcare information system reduces the costs significantly. Further, the information system modeled on health informatics seeks to be interoperable with artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.
On basic medical questions, patients will be at liberty to ask/consult at significantly lower costs. Health outcomes cannot be adequately quantified, as a result, the research paper makes use of qualitative research methods to gauge the relevance of a new information system.
A prototype of the information system is made available to a group of patients, individuals, healthcare providers and social set-ups. The idea is to test its convenience, effectiveness and costs in comparison to what is available in the market (Detmer, Lumpkin J, Williamson J., 2009. 179). Additionally, to better capture the information, certain specific health centers will pilot the program to review its savings on time, manpower and running costs.
When booking a doctor appointment, patients sometimes have to wait for significant amounts of time before being served for simple medical questions that can otherwise find an appropriate answer fast enough. Within a health information system, a conducive environment is created that allows for only qualified personnel to authoritatively reply to patients conclusively. A patient that seeks medical care from one medical provider and then goes ahead to visit another health facility under the health information system saves cost in various ways.
Firstly, the second health facility is mandated to conduct tests that did not feature in the first health visit. Additionally, the second visit will require an evaluation of drugs administered in the first instance. The steps create a circle of accountability for physicians as their peers can evaluate their work at any given moment in time. All the participants in the data collection will not at first be made aware of their participation to eliminate the instance of bias. After their diagnosis or interaction with the system, every willing subject or participant will be asked to fill in a questionnaire or respond to oral questions based on their preference.
A positive outcome for the pilot Programme is based on the responses of the subjects under study. The participants include medical personnel, patients and other third-party stakeholders such as insurance firms, federal government and financiers. Third parties in the Programme will base their outcome on the cost of the project unlike medical practitioners and patients. In the scenario provided, patients reduced their waiting times to seek medical care from the national average of 14 minutes to less than six minutes. The outcome is a significant reduction in the amount of time saved.
The health information system is therefore more convenient than the current system and increases efficiency as a single health provider can serve a considerable number of people than before (Aronson, J. 2011, 521). Evidently, physicians reported being less exhausted as the amount of information that they are required to handle reduces significantly while also providing critical information.
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