Health Information System

Health Information System provides a way for health systems to assimilate information from diverse sources. This enables the health system to utilize information gathered for formulating policies that will enhance the management of the health system. In essence, Health Information System denotes a process of achieving this either via the electronic, like use of computers or paper based, such as clinical guiding principles (Blumenthal, 2006). Because of the varied fronts from which the management of a health system derives its information, the application of Health Information System can be challenging. This is majorly because of the fragmentation of information as well as gathering of deficient information within the system.  

Subsequent to the advent of computer technology, most health facilities have adopted this new means of communication and embraced it in their services. Most health facilities in the USA are now using computers to facilitate communication within the system as well as acquire information that can help in formulating feasible policies. Historically, the dentistry field of healthcare was the first to implement this technological advancement. Contemporarily, many facilities have adapted this and can obtain health information of patients easily. This paper seeks to critique the Health Information System with reference to the USA.     

During his tenure, President George Bush assented to an administrative order that led to the founding of the “Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT)”. This was brought under the “U.S. Department of Health and Human Services”. Somehow, this initiated a necessity for all health systems to adapt the Health Information System via electronic means. In essence, the federal government of the U.S has played a key role in making this decision. The “Department of Health and Human Services” acts as the overall seer in ensuring that the health systems adhere to this federal recommendation. Furthermore, it has formulated regulatory rules that advocate for the use of computers to record health information. In addition to certifying the use of Health Information System, the federal government further provides incentives for practitioners as well as the health facilities. The “National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS)” and “American Hospital Association (AHA)” are among the key federal organizations that have been set up to assess the implementation of the Health Information System (Blumenthal, 2006).     

A group of expert physicians working under the NAMCS annually assesses the way Health Information System is being implemented in the U.S health facilities. According to the MD and President of the “Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)”, Chief Medical Editor, Nancy Synderman, the use of Health Information Systems has been on the increase since 2011. Physicians can attribute this progress to the desire to receive financial incentives from the government. In relation to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, health facilities and physicians alike are required to fulfill a number of requirements before they can be considered for the financial incentive. The Chief Medical Editor of RWJF acknowledges that this is an essential step by the government to ensure that patient medical information is safe (Painter, 2012).  

The use of computers in health systems advanced subsequent to the progressive developments of technology. The use of such technology in health systems can be traced to 1959. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation plays a major role in the field of health care. This foundation provides financial assistance to a number of Health Information Systems. Among this is the Indiana Health Information Exchange. Subsequent to its creation, the Indiana Health Information Exchange experienced a number of challenges. For instance, matters pertaining to culture as well as consumer perspectives, made it difficult for the organization to disseminate public health information (Painter, 2012). Following its original focus on issuing information to primary care physicians, this new changes posed a great challenge for the Indiana Health Information Exchange, because; the new system would require it to provide public information. Additionally, this raised concern among the stakeholders of the organization about what kind of information was required to be availed to the public.      

Primarily, the Health Information System in the Indiana Information Exchange was created through the federal requirement of health care facilities to implement new techniques in processing their information. Initially, information was availed more easily considering that, it was only intended for a sizeable public comprising of primary physicians. However, with the demand to avail information to the public, the Indiana Health Information Exchange, operating under the RWJF needed to improve on its technology and upgrade its system. The then national coordinator in the “Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology”, David Blumenthal, MD, and M.M.P advocated for this by encouraging physicians to avail their information in digital form from the traditional record keeping. This move would then enable them as well as hospitals to provide public information with regard to the federal requirement (Schoenbaum et al., 2003).   

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Most of the systems in use under the RWJF as well as the Indiana Health Information Exchange were developed in house. Prior to the federal requirement to avail health information to the public, the Indiana Health Information Exchange was implementing electronic systems in processing its health information. Essentially, this was a key consideration for organizations, which sought to receive financial incentives from the government. These incentives further enable the health system to enhance its operations by acquiring relevant infrastructure. However, despite the existing structures, the organization had to obtain the appropriate software for enhancing the new requirements (Painter, 2012).

Consequently, there was need to outsource technical assistance. Considering that this is a new invention, there was need for implementing new policies that would direct the effectiveness of the same. This was developed both through in house measures as well as through external forces. The federal government has provided feasible directives that govern the implementation of Health Information Systems. There was need to incorporate these requirements to the existing regulations within the organization to enable the physicians and medical practitioners to operate effectively (Schoenbaum et al., 2003).   

In the advent of implementing Health Information Systems in health facilities, especially in the Indiana Health Information Exchange, stakeholders were consulted. They played a vital role in the process of implementing the Health Information Systems. For instance, they helped in the analysis of the information content and helped to determine which information should be availed to the public and which should be withheld. Considering that this organization only focused on the primary physicians, changing the system to include the public necessitated a need to restructure the type and content of information to be disseminated. The stakeholders came in handy at helping the management to identify the appropriate information to be availed for the benefit of the public (Painter, 2012).

Additionally, the stakeholders like the RWJF, which seeks to ensure proper health care for the citizens of U.S and the federal government, which is a key player in ensuring that its citizens can access proper health care enabled the health facility to advance its systems by providing financial support. In an advent of adapting new technologies, organizations face the challenge of financing the same. Without the help of sponsors or donors, most organizations fail to implement fully. Financial incentives from the federal government play an important role in enabling the health facility to meet new challenges and tackle upcoming issues (Blumenthal, 2006).

Other vital stakeholders include the consumers of the health services. This group of stakeholders comes in handy especially in ensuring the continued existence of health facilities. Considering that they are at the forefront of receiving health care services, consumers of health care need to be reassured of privacy of their health information and security o the same. The Health Information Systems could pose a danger to consumer privacy especially if the health information is not properly guarded.

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In summary, Health Information System denote a process via which health facilities process information obtained from varied sources which helps in the formulation of health policies. Health information can be processed in varied ways, either electronically by use of computers or via paper basis by use of clinical guidelines. The diverse nature of the sources of health information in a health facility pose a challenge to the management of the same mostly because of the disintegrated nature of the information gathered. The use of computers in the field of health care services obtained its popularity with the advent of computers. In the early centuries, the dentistry facilities were the only health services using computer technology to process medical information. Following the assent to administrative order by President George Bush in 2004, many health facilities took to this new technology. With the establishment of government bodies like the ONCHIT under the State Department of Health and Human Services, health facilities were able to achieve the Health Information System standard from the financial incentives they received.

According to the President of RWJF, use of computers in recording health information has been on the increase following the government’s initiative to provide financial incentives for the health facilities. To implement this system effectively, health facilities have had to overcome a number of challenges. For instance, cultural issues as well as consumer perspective; changing the system structures has required the health facilities to seek the opinion of their stakeholders as well assess their current structure. This helps in incorporating the new requirements to the existing system, making it easier for the health facilities to meet the government expectations.

As discussed above, the implementation of the Health Information System calls for various considerations and changes. For instance, in the case of the Indiana Health Information Exchange, new techniques had to be put up to facilitate this technology. New software was acquired to enable the organization to facilitate the provision of health information to the public. Additionally, technical assistance was sought from the RWJF and the federal government enabling the management to effectively restructure its system and observe the regulations. Consumer perspective was also considered to ensure that the health information issued to the public was appropriate and that no privacy issues were breeched.

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