Health information systems (HIS) encompass the technologies and procedures of healthcare providers and other healthcare concerns, such as managed care plans and insurance. These systems use various programs to collect, store, manage, transmit and analyze medical and patient data.
HIS has brought organization to healthcare and substantially improved quality of care and patient outcomes, as well as reduced operating costs and data errors. Ongoing use of these systems has informed research, medical and business decision-making and public policy-making.
Benefits of Health Information Systems
As data is networked and made accessible across systems, benefits accrue, and they are considerable:
- Improved patient care. By centralizing information, including medical histories, prior treatments, vaccinations, test results and diagnoses, practitioners are better positioned to deliver superior patient care. This often includes collaborative care, with cross-specialty treatments enabled by real-time access to continually updated records. Patient safety improves with alerts about the potentially harmful effects of a particular treatment or prescription. Patient satisfaction also rises, and that means more referrals to providers, which creates economies of scale. Providers can spend fewer resources acquiring patients and more resources treating them.
- Cost control. Technology reduces the inefficiencies of data entry redundancy, mistakes and inconsistencies, plus paper costs. It also results in quick digital information exchanges that require fewer administrative expenditures than phone calls and emails.
- Data analytics. Provider talents and knowledge are now supplemented by the information that comes from analyzing pools of data. Data-informed healthcare decisions result in more consistent, positive results. Over time, more data enables steady, incremental improvements in patient care.
- Population health management. Not only can data help with individual healthcare plans, but aggregate patient data can identify trends within populations. From there, government and business entities can collaborate to reduce the disproportionate local occurrences of a disease. For example, if poor eating habits in a state factor into more diabetes cases, officials can use a PR campaign to create awareness and influence people to make better food choices.
- Provider performance analysis. Health information systems improve medical personnel through data compilation on the efficiency of care and the results achieved. HIS enables decision-makers to track the effectiveness of individual practitioners, find specific areas for improvement and provide a path to better patient outcomes. This information is also instrumental in training new healthcare workers.
- Reduced time and operational costs. These systems empower organizations to deploy resources in a cost- and time-effective manner, which means lean staffs can accomplish more and save money.
Types of Healthcare Information Systems
A variety of components constitute the complete HIS, wherein data from all sources is networked and updated. Three systems take prominence:
- Patient portal. Online portals provide convenient and secure access to electronic records. Patients can determine doctor availability, schedule appointments, check bills and review their histories. They are thus more proactive in their own care, and this lightens the administrative burden on providers. The online portal also increases patient trust because it offers transparency between the patient and providers.
- Electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR). These interchangeable terms describe a digital case history. These platforms acquire, store and enable sharing of all data related to a patient's health background and treatments.
- Pharmacy management system. Like EHRs, this system gives pharmacies, and medical providers access to years of patient pharmaceutical data to make informed decisions on prescriptions and avert errors.
Opportunities to Improve Information Systems
Much improvement has been achieved in just a few years. Health information systems are regarded as the long-term key to reducing costs and improving access to healthcare throughout the United States. Costs are still high relative to other First World countries. Still, the keys to cost containment, efficiencies and improved patient outcomes lie in collecting, analyzing and making better decisions — from the patient-doctor relationship up to the highest levels of government.
Sources:Infowerks: What Is a Health Information System?
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.