Health Informatics

Health Informatics

It is in the world domain that the human species is faced by many challenges. These challenges can be classified under natural disasters or man induced disasters. If we were to look at epidemics, we can say that the human species dwells in a world where at one time or the other one has to be attacked by an abnormal condition.  Abnormal condition negatively affects some part or the whole body of an organism, preventing it from operating at maximum potential. When an organism experiences abnormal conditions it is said it is sick or has a disease.

There are many disorders in the world. Some are curable while others are not. For example, ever since the discovery of Hiv/Aids, no cure has been engineered yet. However, the disease can be contained through medication, although it is not curable once it has attached itself on an organism. This study investigates how information on pathogens is gathered and applied on health care as well as in other relevant disciplines. This topic therefore seeks to investigate what is health informatics, and how it works. In definition, health informatics can be said to be a discipline that deals with devices, resources and methods applied in acquisition, storage and the use of information in the biomedicine and health disciplines (Braunstein, 2013). This discipline can also be viewed as an intersection of computer science, health care and information science. This discipline is also known by other titles including; healthcare informatics, nursing informatics, Biomedical informatics, medical informatics, clinical informatics and health information systems. This discipline also uses tools like; information and communication systems, clinical guidelines, formal medical terminologies, and also the use of computers. This discipline is essentially important in health care and also in other sectors including; clinical care, nursing, dentistry, public health, pharmacy, physical therapy, (bio)medical research, occupational therapy and also in alternative medicine (Alshawi et al, 2003). Therefore, this information stresses on how essential health informatics is essential, to many scientific disciplines more so in the field of health care.

The first idea that hits any readers mind is the fact that there is need of undisputable information in the health sector. This is more so looking at the topic which is “health informatics”. In health care, clinical informatics strikes out as one of the most important aspects in this case study. For instance, clinical informatics is simply concerned with how clinicians use information on their day today health care activities (In Grain et al, 2013). This is through their means of application in different sectors of health care. This is through their analysis, transformation of the information so that it can be of use in health care, their designing of the information, its evaluation and their means of implementation. They also get a chance to evaluate communication systems as well as the information that go through it, and get to apply in their daily duties. This includes; improving the care accorded a patient, determination of population health outcomes and also strengthening the relationship between a clinician and a patient. There are also many other ways that clinicians can use health informatics on their daily routine. This is mostly when using their knowledge in patient care, in combination with their understanding of informatics concepts, their application methods as well as the tools that are brought about by the discipline (Brown et al, 2013).

Clinicians can use health informatics tools to do a lot of things that come with their profession. It is also important to note that there are four sub specialties that make up health care informatics. They include; clinical informatics, nursing informatics, community health informatics and the medical informatics (Hanson & Levin, 2013). For instance, clinicians can use health informatics to evaluate, characterize and also refine clinical process that may need up to date information in order for them to function properly. On top of that, these health informatics tools can also be of use to clinicians in customization, implementation, evaluation, management, procurement, development as well as continuous improvement of the information systems that clinicians use when they are going about their business on a daily basis. These health informatics tools can also be used to assess information and also discover knowledge needs in both the health care professionals as well as in their patients.

In order to make sure that the above health informatics tools are of use to both the patients as well as health care professionals, there is needed to be collaborations between professionals who may find their paths together meeting seeking the same thing. Therefore, there is need for proper coordination between clinicians and other professionals more so from the information technology sector, in the development of health informatics tools (Wall, 2000). This would lead to the development of and promotion of clinician patient care, which would be efficient, safe, timely, patient-centered, effective ad also, be equitable.

In effort to promote the above applications of health informatics, the American Board of Medical Specialists (IBMS), has been on the front line installing measures to see that they are adopted in the health care sector. The IBMS is the organization in charge of overseeing the credibility as well as the certification of all United States physician specialists (Brown et al, 2013). This organization in October of 2011 announced the creation of a forum where physicians would be certified in Clinical Informatics. In fact, this was actualized and this board even saw to the first examination, leading to credible certification, in the October of 2013. This examination was set by the American Board of Preventive Medicine, and it saw 432 students graduation to be accredited with a certificate in Clinical Informatics (Braustein, 2013).

However, it is not like just anyone can become accredited with a diploma in clinical informatics. Only those who would have graduated from a medical school either in Canada, United States of America, or a school within a locality that is recognized by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. On top of that, an aspiring student for the same is required to finish a primary residency program, medicine for example, and also be eligible to be allowed to practice medicine within the state in which the subsequent program of fellowship is located (Braunstein, 2013). This fellowship program runs for 2 year, equivalent to 24 months of study, dwelling on didactics, research, informatics rotations and clinical work, more so in ones primary specialty. This much input by the American Board of Medical Specialists shows just how much the issue of health informatics is in health care.

Looking at the second sub specialty in health care informatics which is computational health informatics one cannot fail to notice that it is equally important in this sector. For starters, computational health informatics in health care is a branch that needs a lot if computer science applications (BHI (Conference & In Imamura, 2013). This is more so when specifically dealing with relevant computational techniques in health care. This branch of computational health in as much as it belongs to Health informatics; it is orthogonal to this discipline. This is because; most of computers scientists are more interested in finding out the computational fundamentals properties. This is contrary to health informatics discipline that dwells more on discovering the fundamental medicine characteristics behind the field the application and computational values in data (Hanson &Levin, 2013). However, no one can dispute the role of computer systems in health care. This is more so because they carryout tasks that physicians would not be complete or even achieve results applicable in health care.  However, when one uses computation techniques in health care, there is a chance of gathering a wide variety of information, which can help one solve many problems as well as develop effective one. For instance, in the last decade computer scientists have been studying underlying principles found in computer science, more so when it comes to the field of medicine. This is more so in application that need developing algorithms and other data analysis systems in computer technologies of use in medicine.

For instance, no one can dispute that the use of computer in the field of medicine has been in use from as early as 1950s. This was more so in data analyzation, although there were not as many developments like the ones which were witnessed in the 1990s. This was believed to be the period when the first sturdy models came into play (O’Carroll, 2003). Other than that, there have been other developments in technology, especially in different field of computers that have also pushed the field of research in medicine to grow at a significantly high rate. The most notable development in any step of technology has been the internet. This development has helped the world to communicate more so in the discipline as it has contributed to the development of computational health informatics. This is where we have seen physicians comparing health information from different corner of the world just by a click of a button leading to quick means of quarantine and development of cures of the same. We have also witnessed many situations where physicians as well as other professions are using computer systems to examine many health topics online (Braubstein, 2013). They may include; health care costs, how exercise affects diseases like obesity and many more. In short, computational health informatics is essential in the discipline of health informatics and they are used all over the world on a daily basis.

The third sub specialty of health informatics that I will address in the discipline of health care informatics will be informatics for education, research in health and in medicine. This is more so because, physician gather the health informatics principles, technologies and core foundations and apply them in the context of clinical research (Wall, 2000). Therefore, one can say that clinical research informatics can be considered as a sub-discipline of health informatics. Based on the increase of problems associated with information and clinical research data growing on a daily basis, one can also say that clinical research informatics activities and interest have also continued to develop. This can be seen in a number of ways that the clinical research informatics have support clinical research. They include; efficient management and optimal protocol design, more developed, effective and efficient data acquisition and collection methods, adverse event reporting and regulatory compliance. On top of that, there has also been better means of data processing, transfer, and data analysis and data storage for future reference in clinical research.  (Alshawi et al, 2003)It is also a fact that clinical research informatics have brought about better patent recruiting means as well as patient management methods.

Looking at how health informatics has been used in our country, we can see that indeed they have been in use ever since the invention of computers and other data gathering and processing gadgets. For instance; there were digital data projects that were being pursued in the United States from as early as 1950s (Health Informatics, 1999). These projects were being carried out by Robert Ledley at the National Bureau of Standards. There were other medical projects that followed by government agencies as well as other civilian ones. Even the United States air force at one time carried out several medical researches on its computers.

Medical research on computers was boosted with the publishing of an article dubbed “Reasoning Foundations of Medical Diagnosis” by Ledley and Lee B. This article was relevant in the health care sector as it provided insights on some discoveries made through computers and also on different means that these machines could be used to better data collection, storage and analyzation among other ways (Brown et al, 2013). This article is still in use to date as it was essentially informative and doctors use it in their decision making processes. For instance, this article has continued to guide many researchers pursuing medical as well as biology disciplines for insights on how computers can be used in the health care sector. Ever since then, numerous improvements have been done to supplement the information in this article and also to simplify different improvements in the medical sector. For instance, there was a physician who worked for Kaiser Permanente’s in the 1960s, by the name of Morris Collen. Mr. Collen developed an automated medical computer system that facilitated research in multiphase health checkups as well as other in other medical aspects.

These systems were later to be adopted as the basis for this institution, Kaiser Permanente’s more so during the 1970s and 1980s. On top of that, these systems have witnessed a lot of improvements on research basis done by many organizations including the infamous American College of Medical Informatics. This institution has even gone ahead to bestow Mr. Collen annually as from 1963 for his research and findings in the field of medical informatics (Hanson & Levin, 2013). With all these contributions in science, there was need to come up with regulations that would see that every individual doing research on or through health informatics stayed within the expectable standards. Therefore, there was need to come up with laws that made sure that Health Informatics were practiced within the law. Therefore, health informatics law deals with coming legal principles that may apply to information and technology, and may be of use when it comes to health related matters (BHI (Conference) & In Imamura, 2013). These principles may be complicated as they keep evolving as time goes by.

These health informatics laws are also supposed to keep the moral ethics of all the researchers who may want to pursue this discipline in check. This is more so to make sure that even subjects who are subjected to health informatics research are acceptable in the field of science as well as in the society. These laws also address operational issues that may arise when using electronic tools, ethical issues, privacy of the research, media and also the information used in health care delivery (Wall, 2000). They also apply in other matters that may involve health care, information and technology and any other interactive information in the field of medicine. This field of health informatics mainly deals comes into application in matters where records and other forms of data are distributed and shared with other areas that may be entrust with supporting and enhancing health care.

Looking at the developments that have taken root in the last decade, the internet has been relied on as a mode of making patients health record readily available via the internet. However, there is need to ensure that in as much as this information is available online, it can only be viewed by the relevant parties so as to protect the anonymity of a patient as well as their privacy and confidentiality (Braunstein, 2013). Therefore, this calls for information standardized measure that would make sure that the information of any patient is safe. Other than just protecting a patient’s information, there should also be measures to ensure that the process as well as the technology used in the process is also protected. This would prevent the processes as well as the research getting in the wrong hands and being used in the wrong manner.

For example, every medical record needs to be standardized by health informatics laws in order to maintain the integrity of the research in question as well as keep the researchers morals in check. In order for people who deal with these health informatics systems to keep their morals in check as well as uphold the integrity of the research, they need to be trained just like any other personnel in the hjealth care sector (In Grain et al, 2013). This is even on issues that seem to be more of medicine in nature other than information systems. This is because, there may be an emergency situation that may require their assistance especially if there was no medical doctors available to deal with the issue. For starters, we need to understand that there are many advantages that come with training all personnel in healthcare. This is more so in any organization or industry, where the healthcare aspects directly and indirectly influences the consecutive success of the organization in question (Wall, 2000).

Since this aspect is critical in the everyday running of an organization, there is need to train all the employees involved, since the health care industry is changeable. Therefore, training and educating employees is necessary, in order to make sure that their input would be of quality, something which would reflect well on the success of any organization (Leathard, 2000). As a result, there is need to educate and train the employees so that they can end up making sound decision that would not come back to haunt them, or their organization when they are supposed to be working. From this information, we can argue that healthcare development and training is vital in any organization as it provides employees with sound skills that improve their professional practices.

Measuring competencies is also very important in an organization. This measuring of competencies is just evaluating the abilities of employees, after undergoing successful training and education programs in healthcare, or on any other subject (Leathard, 2000). In relation to healthcare, measuring the ability of employees in an organization to apply their acquired skills through training and developments programs is significantly vital. This is because; it helps determine whether an organization is in a position to handle any crucial responsibility that would require healthcare attention (Leathard, 2000). A good example would be to gauge whether employees know how to perform a PR on each other just in case the need ever arises even whey the work on computer systems. Therefore, the need to measure competencies in any organization helps determine who is skilled in doing what and who is not. In general, measuring of competencies also helps the organization determine on which of their employees should be in charge of what department within it. In healthcare, measuring of competencies helps managers determine who of their employees obtained the skills to handle matters that require clinical approach (Wall, 2000). If there are not enough people with the expected skills, it also helps the managers to determine whether another healthcare training forum would be necessary or not. This would be reflected by the skills portrayed by their employees. As if that was not enough, measuring of competencies after education and training also helps managers determine whether the previous training session was carried out properly or not (Leathard, 2000). This is because, where proper education and training in healthcare or on any other matter is carried out, at least all of the employees who participated in the program should have an idea on how to handle all the matters they trained for. If the above proves to be otherwise, then the organization can assume that the previous training was poorly done.

There are four stages involved in the process of tracking and evaluating training effectiveness. They are; reaction, learning, behavior and results respectively (Leathard, 2000). Each level holds its own share of significance. The reaction level, which is the first is all about the feedback of the participants in the training (Wall, 2000). This maybe in form of questionnaires that may accompanied by other informal comments from an individual or group level, as long as they participated in the program. The second level is learning, whose main intention is to determine whether participants gained any knowledge from the training (Wall, 2000).  Therefore, assessment is done by supervisors on their employees on how they were performing before the training, and whether their performance improved or deteriorated thereafter. The next level, which is behavior, involves filling out of questionnaire on ones manners of handling a particular task. The questionnaire is mainly of self-assessment nature and task performance is observed by other parties (Leathard, 2000). The last level, which is results, involves reports from peers, managers or the customers on the performance of the employees after successful training (Leathard, 2000). These results are also reflected on the quality of service delivered, ability to handle topics on interviews with sales persons and even on financial reports.


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