By Monica Mendoza
Whether you’re a newcomer or a veteran of the healthcare industry, you may have noticed that hospitals and other healthcare organizations like International Medical Insurance firms have made the shift from manual paperwork to digital recordkeeping, especially when it comes to patient records and documentation. This is nothing new, as many industries have long since adopted computer technology to help them with their paperwork as well as their business processes.
What is new is that this shift has given rise to an entirely new way of treating patient data besides simply storing it for future reference. It’s called Health Informatics, which is the usage of information technology to collect, manage, and analyze patient medical data. This information is used to improve the delivery of healthcare to any given patient. This new trend has had such a significant and positive impact on healthcare that an entirely new industry has sprouted from it, with hospitals now employing Health Informatics experts to take full advantage of its benefits.
What does health informatics have to do with you, though? Even if you’re not a health informatics expert, why should it be important to you? The truth is that, even if that’s the case, you should still learn about health informatics, especially when it comes to navigating the systems and technology involved. In doing so, you’ll be better equipped to take advantages of the concrete benefits health informatics offers to healthcare staff, as well as improve your medical skills.
Here are some examples in how that happens.
It helps you manage your patients’ medical records better and easier.
One of the biggest challenges in healthcare has always been keeping documentation updated and accessible. Paper records and charts can easily be lost, misplaced, or forgotten entirely before they can even be placed in a patient’s file, especially on a particularly busy day.
Important test results may also be misplaced by the patient before they can even be looked at by a healthcare professional. In addition, manually searching for a patient’s records may take up valuable time and manpower. All these can result in a flawed or inefficient delivery of healthcare that could cost the hospital or organizations revenue.
Thanks to the adoption of health informatics technology, all the patient information that you could possibly need is accessible in one place—your computer workstation. The digitization of patient records, test results, and pertinent personal data into a database allows you to learn everything you need to know about a specific patient with just one click. This allows you to keep track of their health more easily while also enabling you to share their current health status with other medical professionals.
The mobile devices connected to the health informatics network also ensure that the records are immediately and automatically updated when new data about the patient comes in, such as a new test result.
By learning about health informatics, you’ll be able to better navigate your way through the technology involved and thus be able to manage your patients’ records better.
It helps you reduce trial and error in the treatment of a patient.
Trial and error in healthcare can be a costly affair, both in terms of resources being spent needlessly as well as posing serious and avoidable risks to the patient’s health. Mistakenly prescribed medication and misdiagnosis, for example, can result in the patient suffering health complications due to side effects and unneeded medical procedures. It can even lead to the patient suffering a more grievous injury or condition than what they originally sought medical help for. Such events can lead to even costlier consequences, such as medical malpractice litigation and wrongful death accusations.
Health informatics can help you and other medical professionals avoid these consequences by providing you immediate access to the updated information you absolutely need, eliminating any guesswork when it comes to crucial moments in the treatment path of a patient.
For example, it can warn you when it detects that you’re about to prescribe something that they’re allergic to or will have dangerous interactions with medication they’re already taking. It can also help alert you to specific conditions that your patient has been treated for in the past, which could help in getting a more accurate diagnosis. These and other benefits can help ensure a favorable outcome for your patient as well as cut down on repeat visits and procedures.
By minimizing trial and error, health informatics can help you become more efficient in diagnosing your patients’ conditions and treating them for these conditions. This also has the added benefit of improving the quality of healthcare that you can provide, along with increasing the level of patient safety in your healthcare facility.
It helps you enable your patients to make informed decisions about their own health.
The favorable outcome of a patient’s treatment doesn’t hinge completely on the quality of healthcare that they receive, but also on the ability of the patient to comprehend their medical condition and the treatment options available to them. By having an adequate understanding of the overall picture, the patient can then make an informed choice about their health, which would then lead to their most desired outcome.
This understanding can only be provided by you, their healthcare provider. They will ultimately rely on you to help them understand their condition and the options that they can take in managing their condition. Depending on how many patients you manage daily, you may have difficulties in ensuring that every patient you treat is fully educated about their health.
Health informatics can assist you in this regard as well. As it gives you quick and immediate access to your patient’s health records, test results and other paperwork, you can easily answer all your patient’s inquiries as soon as you pull up their file. Also, since the information in their file is guaranteed to be up to date and as complete as possible, you will also be able to update them on their treatment path progress reliably and accurately. All of this can contribute to an easier road to recovery for your patient.
Health informatics may seem like something that’s better left to the technicians and computer staff to worry about. However, with all these clear benefits and skill improvements that health informatics brings, it’s clear that this could be the newfound element that could truly revolutionize healthcare as we know it. You may be neglecting your own career as well as your patients’ welfare if you simply ignore it or let the opportunity pass you by.