As technology rapidly advances, there is a greater need to provide reliable data and greater accessibility of patient information across healthcare facilities. This upward mobility in technology will ultimately increase the efficacy of intrinsic activity related to pharmacology, surgical procedures, new medical devices, and finally public health information as it relates to accessing medical data that will save a life or track medical data in a patient overtime. Although the use of health information systems is on the rise, theoretically, the benefits may outweigh or in a sense balance the risks associated with electronic health information across the board. This article will briefly analyze the risks and potential benefits of systematic collection of health care data.
Synchronization, Accessibility and Reliability
The benefits of implementing health information systems go well beyond the scope of this article. Collecting data will allow healthcare facilities to synchronize and archive health information overtime. To be more specific, this system of health information exchange will create greater collaboration and health care cooperation. Additionally, this digital and social framework will allow doctors to track patient care, set up reminders for prescription renewals, and allow doctors to share information. There are many other benefits not mentioned here.
Health Information Systems can be easily accessed and this creates greater reliability within the system. If data is captured correctly, patient history is condensed into an electronic database. This eliminates the need to manually order patient data from various healthcare facilities. The system also helps the healthcare firm verify and update information as it relates to patient care.
Privacy, Confidentiality & Costs
Privacy, confidentiality and costs should be evaluated in order to determine how these factors will affect how information is used. First, protecting the patient’s information is of major concern due to foreseen challenges such as: transfer of unauthorized information to unauthorized personnel, how data can be used or analyzed in scientific research, and protecting the privacy rights of the patient. These are the challenges that healthcare facilities (who implement health information technology) will face. According to the National Research Council (2009): Health facilities should safeguard security of health data by using better encryption technology, alert patients when data has been breached, use data security experts, and use multiple security protection techniques to eradicate vulnerability within the system.
Change is Constant
As a final point, in correlation to health care information technology or systems, change is constant. Patient information may constantly change and require continuous updates. Ultimately, human error will also play a larger role in accuracy, reliability and costs associated with duplication, and error (malpractice). As technology takes on a life of its own, facilities must be able to adapt and grow in order to meet patient’s needs. How do we keep up? How do we adapt to the needs of patients without physically or psychologically harming them. Will the benefits outweigh the risks? Factoring and weighing cost benefit is one way to determine how to change. However, there is one thing that is certain – change is constant. In dealing with issues associated with health IT. Change is necessary in order to protect the patient, health information, scientific research, and finally the facilities that control the information.
National Research Council. Beyond the HIPAA Privacy Rule: Enhancing Privacy, Improving Health Through Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK9579/
Raghu Iyer, MBA is a serial entrepreneur and ICT professional with interests in Business Intelligence, BigData, Analytics, Healthcare and Internet / Social Media applications to bring real value to users / customers.