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Health Information Management entails collecting and maintaining records on health care by healthcare institutions and individuals involved in the provision of healthcare. Health Information Technology is the management of healthcare information in computerized systems. IM and IT in healthcare are crucial for keeping patient records, sharing patient information in order to provide better care for the patient across different medical facilities. It is vital that systems be put in place that the information on patients and other health information is properly maintained and shared to the benefit of the patient. In the absence of such systems, the health information could be mishandled, lost, disorganized or even used by unauthorized parties for wrong reasons. Therefore, all the components of health IM and health IT should be constantly improved to maintain their viability.
Components of Health IT and IM
The components of health information systems can be broadly classified into three main categories. These are inputs, processes and outputs (Health Metrics Network, 2012). The inputs of a health information system include such things that make the system work. These are the foundation of the entire system. They include the machines, personnel and legal framework. The processes are part of health information system that enables the system to accomplish its aims. Under processes, the components of health information systems can be sub-classified into indicators, data sources and data management. Under outputs, the components of health information systems are sub-classified into information products and dissemination and use of the information.
The inputs in health information systems are those components of the system that are so vital to it that it cannot work without these components. These include the machinery that should be put in place, the personnel and the legal framework.
In terms of machines, the most important machines in health information systems are computers. Moreover, health information systems need competent servers to enhance safe connectivity throughout the health systems under any jurisdiction. Therefore, there is a need for systems that can efficiently collect and store information in different forms and large amounts. The personnel that are needed to make information systems work are also classified under inputs. Such personnel include software engineers, website designers, computer scientists and hardware engineers. Moreover, there have to be legal frameworks that facilitate the ethical collection, safe handling and appropriate storage and sharing of health-related data.
Another essential component of health information systems that can be classified under inputs is the financial aspect. In order to put in place competent health information systems by hiring competent staff, and setting up the best machinery, a lot of money has to be spent. Therefore, finances are an integral part of health IM and health IT.
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In health IM and IT, there are various processes that contribute to the success of the entire process. Among the things classified under processes are indicators, data sources and data management.
Indicators are the pointers used to measure the effectiveness and success of the health management system. The indicators used to determine the effectiveness of the system are many and varied, but they could be standardized by professionals to include only those indicators whose feedback is important for particular healthcare issues. Indicators are useful for the appropriate measurement of success and readjustments where necessary.
Another component of health IM and IT systems classified under processes is data sources. Sourcing for data in an appropriate, selective and professional manner requires the expertise of the data collector. This process could determine the accuracy of the data obtained, and its relevance to the problem at hand. Moreover, the data sources must be selected in accordance to the needs of the health-care professional or whoever else is collecting it.
Data management is also a component of health IT and IM. Data must be stored properly and retrieved only when necessary and in accordance with the existing legal requirements. This is important in protecting the privacy and confidence of patients and other primary sources of information.
Of all these components of health IM and IT, the most important aspects are those that enable it achieve its objectives of improving healthcare delivery. Therefore, the aspects of data collection and data management are particularly important. It is also essential that the latest and most up-to-date technology be put in place to ensure that the data is easily and readily synthesized.
Data collection is the key to information management in health care. The data sources must be relevant for the information to have its intended effect (Leckie, Pettigrew & Sylvain, 1996). Therefore, the selection of data sources must be perfect. Moreover, the data must be collected in ethical procedures. As far as data management is concerned, the privacy of the information sources must be maintained, and the information collected must only be used for professional reasons. In this regard, the data collected must be stored and shared only according to procedural requirements. In addition, the sharing of health-based information should be efficient in order to improve training of health care professionals and deliver better healthcare to patients.
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To improve these components of health IM and IT, decisive steps have to be taken. First of all, there have to be well trained personnel to collect data. Therefore, appropriate programs have to be put in place to incorporate the units that deal with data collection in the training of healthcare officials (Blake, Kohler, Culler, Hawley & Rask 2012). Moreover, there have to be enough personnel who are exquisitely trained in data collection methods. They need to be employed in healthcare facilities to facilitate correct data collection.
In order to maintain the viability of the technology that is used in health IT and IM, the funding has to be adequate. The acquisition of the latest technology would be facilitated by financial support. This would, in turn, enhance the processes involved in health information management and health information technology. Another step that would be instrumental in ensuring that the health information technology and management remain viable is to update the links and records on a regular basis. This would ensure that the records kept are up to date and useful for the process of decision making.
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Recommendations for improving the application of systems theory to healthcare IM/IT governance
Health information systems must be able to improve the provision of health care, record keeping and enterprise systems within the healthcare sector. Therefore, the recommendations made herein should be able to have an impact that would enable the health information systems achieve these goals.
1) To enable effective record keeping and communication between the physician and the patient, electronic health records need to be set up and maintained. The electronic health records need to be maintained by cutting-edge technology in terms of hardware and software. This would ensure that health records are protected from unauthorized access and shared within safe limits.
2) Health professionals need to be trained in the use of health IM and IT systems. This would increase the efficiency with which health information would be collected, recorded, retrieved and shared for decision-making processes. Moreover, this would increase the efficiency with which e-health is administered.
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3) More software professionals should be incorporated into health IM/IT systems (Kaplan, & Harris-Salamone, 2009), and they should be challenged to come up with software solutions that would enhance schedule management, patient data management, pharmacological investigations and public health monitoring. This would enhance prediction and evaluation processes, and improve healthcare delivery in general.
Health information systems play a vital role in the delivery of health care. They enhance the provision of health care by collecting, maintaining and making use of health records. Health IT/IM management enhances efficiency in patient care, learning and research, public health and diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, health IT/IM should be improved by training healthcare professionals in dealing with health IT/IM, and also incorporate professionals exclusively trained in IM/IT.
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