According to Jerome Carter (2008), Electronic Health Record (EHR) refers to the use of computers and other systems of the information technology to support clinical data management. The use of Information Technology (IT) in the healthcare sector is a growing reality in many parts of the world. In United States of America, all the systems within the healthcare providers and the medical facilities are interconnected through the highly modernized healthcare information technology infrastructure. The components of the Information Technology systems ensure that all the healthcare facilities and service providers can adequately management their database with high precision. The independent Information systems are capable of storing, relaying and retrieving clients’ information from the database at any given time without any difficulty.
The existence of an elaborate Information Technology infrastructure between the healthcare service providers and healthcare facilities such as hospitals and medical care services allow for the maintenance of electronic medical records. The electronic health records contain all the necessary medical information about a particular patient in a consolidated manner notwithstanding changes in the medical service providers or geographical location because all these information are integrated at the wider National Health Information Network.
The architectural design of the EHR guarantees accurate and reliable transmission of data within the integrated healthcare system. The EHR has made it possible to integrate all the components of the clinical information systems (CIS) and the hospital information systems (HIS). The introduction of health information technology has brought about much transformation in the healthcare industry. HIT increases efficiency of the healthcare services, many hospitals and other healthcare providers have are increased their capacity to extend their services clients (Walker, Bieber & Richards, 2006). Similarly, the clients are happy with the high quality services of the healthcare providers.
a) Health Information Exchange (HIE)
The development of Health information technology has proven to be very effective and a very useful tool among the stakeholders of the healthcare industry (Wilhelm, 2008). HIE not only allows for the integration of individual information into an organized data but it also facilitates a coordinated and systematic exchange of electronic data between among the governmental healthcare providers, healthcare organizations, health facilities and other independent health information organizations.
In the United States, all the healthcare information and other medical records are entered into the database system of the National Health Information Network. The centralized system stores the data for the subsequent retrieval and future references by the authorized parties (in this context healthcare providers and government agencies). The electronic record is faster and easier to use compared to the records on the physical files.
The HIE serves to maintain and effectively manage personal health records. The centralization of data within the healthcare provides for the integration of all individual clinical records into the synchronized database where all related information will be gathered and stored under the clients’ respective portfolios. Integrated maintenance and management of personal health records gives clients freedom and opportunity to seek the services of multiple healthcare service providers without any restriction or limitations since all their clinical record could be accessed from all points of service.
b) Improved Patient Care
Electronic Health Records (EHR) provides an accurate medical and clinical history of every patient within the centralized system. The finer clinical details such as drug prescriptions, medical assessments, clinical diagnosis, and patient’s adverse responses to specific drugs (if any) are all readily available from the EHR. Considering that these sets of medical information and elaborate clinical details could be accessed by any authorized physician from the system, the continuity of patients’ care is possible in the case of multiple healthcare providers because the physicians could track their clinical history without any difficulty.
EHR enables the medical practitioners to offer excellent patient care to their clients because the centralized database provides the latest information about the patient’ medication and clinical status. Therefore, medical practitioners could not administer wrong drugs to their patients whatsoever. With the support of the EHR, the medical practitioners observe extra care while handling patients because the system database captures all the information about the clinical diagnosis and drug prescription. As such, EHR medical tracking system keeps the medical practitioners under constant check to ensure they meet high standards of care they give to patients.
Research Problem Statement
Over the past three decades, the healthcare systems in many countries have experienced serious problems in the management of their medical information across the world. Majority still resort to the use of physical files in keeping patients’ records. As a result, lots of medical and clinical healthcare information are liable to get damaged or lost altogether. Additionally, the much required information about the increasing numbers of patients becomes extremely difficult to retrieve- a phenomenon that contributes to the inefficiency of the healthcare systems.
The study seeks to answer the following research questions
i) To what extent does the Electronic Health Records (EHR) influence the efficiency of the major healthcare systems across the world?
ii) Does the implementation of the Health Information Technology in the healthcare systems reduce the cost of the medical care provision to patients?
iii) Doe the Electronic Heath Records safeguard the privacy of patient’s medical information?
Even though the initial cost of installing computerized Health Information Technology infrastructure within the wider National Health Information Network, the health information technology greatly improves the efficiency, clients’ satisfaction levels and operational costs of the healthcare systems across the world.
The research design and methodology of the study will constitute the sample design, study population, sampling methods and techniques, sampling procedures, data collection methods and techniques and data collection instruments. The research design of the study will use a descriptive research design. The relevant information concerning the use of heath information technology and the extent of their applications in the national healthcare systems will be collected without any manipulation.
- Target Population
The research study will target specified healthcare facilities, service providers, clients/patients, independent healthcare agencies and governmental healthcare agencies to determine the effectiveness of the health information technology within the healthcare systems. The respondents will be randomly sampled from the larger sample populations. The stratified random sampling technique will be used to determine the final respondents using 25% of the target population. The stratified random sampling techniques will be appropriate since it enables the researcher to break the population of concern into sub-groups called strata.
- Data Collection
The researcher will gather information relevant to the research study at this stage. Data collection method will be through the use of questionnaires. Data collection technique will involve the use of structured and unstructured questionnaires and the main data collection instruments that will be used to collect data will be open ended questionnaires and closed ended questionnaires. In areas where the researchers can easily reach the senior and more experienced medical experts, live interviews will be recommended for the recording purposes.
- Data Collection Procedures
This presents the actual data that will be obtained for the purpose of the research study; this will be obtained from answered questionnaires, recorded interviews and observed facts. Primary data will be collected and analyzed to help in answering of the research questions.
Collection of secondary data was obtained through desk research, which was either from internal or external sources, the external sources included journals, reports and working papers, this type of data was discussed in the literature review of the study
4. Data Analysis and Reporting
The data collected will be evaluated, assessed and comparison made so as to select the most accurate and quality information from the feedback given by various respondents. The obtained data will be analyzed through the use of statistical software such as STRATA, SPSS, and Ms excel that will also be used to present data using charts.