Information Technology in Health Care System

Nowadays, the opportunities that information technology development provides can be used widely in different spheres of the society life, and health care is one of them. People face a variety of health problems and questions somehow connected. They address the medical institutions, hospitals, therapeutic practice, etc. Data collection is an important part of the process of the patients’ service providing. The advantages it gives are the improvement of the service quality, reduction of the health care disparity level, the material availability for further research development. However, the process faces a significant part of misunderstanding and resistance from the both sides (patients and medical staff). In the “Race, ethnicity, and language data: standardization for health care quality improvement” work by Institute of medicine the key challenges are defined as:

  • how to ask patient the question about race, ethnicity, language, and communication needs;
  • how to train the staff to elicit the data in respectful and efficient manner;
  • how to cope with the discomfort that staff may experience while requesting for information;
  • how to ask patients and enrollees to feedback respectfully;
  • how to manage data flow, for example, changes in patients’ information.
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Various systems of material collection exist, for instance, health surveys, billing records, questionnaires, observations and progress tracking, etc. Some of them are more convenient, easy for implementation, and used to for clients than others. Respectively, they face a different limit of barriers in practical usage. These issues may be sorted by different features. In the next few paragraphs, they will be divided by their scale starting from person’s data and local medical institutions and moving to the level of international organizations, or intergovernmental commissions.

  • Private and local barriers. There is no enterprise at the local level that can collect the various quantitative and qualitative data on race, ethnicity, or language topic independently. Moreover, the question is that there is no system where the organization can share information, use it on request, compound, compare, etc. Besides, the variety of medical service institutions exists which allows persons’ medical records not to be attached to a specific place. One more barrier is collection of the material, which is not qualitative in the sense of disparities happening;
  • State and national problems. The practice exists of data gathering for compliance to the rules (historically), not for the health care network improvement. The IT in health care sphere development is called for changing the outdated approach and implementation of new standards. In addition to that, there is a question of unified survey introduction. There is a need to create the norm on the state level because different medical institutions have their frames which may lead to collection of not connected pieces of information;
  • International and worldwide issues. A positive tendency is an increasing number of international organizations that implement data gathering services and use them widely in their operational activity. Some of them are Global Health Observatory (World Health Organization), Human Development Report (United Nations), International Profiles of Health Care Systems (Commonwealth Fund) (Data, tools, and statistics, n. d.). However, the problematic issue remains the situation in areas which have a variety of health problems and conditions for people’s living which are deserved to become better. The mechanisms of data collection are absent or poorly developed in these regions.

The strategies for overcoming the difficulties which information assembly systems have are called for the situation improvement. They have to start from the local hospitals, community health centers, physician and group practices, various surveys, health plans, etc. Thus, for probabilistic data evaluation indirect estimation technics can be used. They allow working with local area reports for missing data supplementing. Considering the states’ level, better integration and development of infrastructure are needed, where its participants may share the material. With this aim, surveys with personal health record (PHR) and further transformation into electronic health record (EHR) surveys can be used. The example to be followed is the Alliance of Chicago community health services. This alliance of clinical sites created the EHR system in 2005-2006. The setup had a security service and gave access to providers, which made the available observation, comparison of trends (in populations, in demography, etc.). Without any doubt, these processes required workflow changes, customer-oriented approach, decisions support. Later this model became a role one for community health services in other states.

If PHR and EHR become state level and even international standards, local medical institutions will not have to deal with the issues at random. Despite, they will have strict rules for data collection. And in case they experience any problems or difficulties, they will be able to receive consultation from the colleagues or appeal for official assistance. Here one more strategy arises which foresees personnel engagement and training. Starting from the training of the reception staff, administrative employees, and staff on EHR system service (including information gathering, processing, analyzing), measures have to be taken. The leaflets with examples, official documentation, seminars or webinars which help to deal with nonstandard cases can be put into practice. Thereby, quality control events have to be held too.

Another way of improving the records’ collection mechanism is the engagement of collaboration with community health centers and other organizations of similar nature because they are certain settings for the information disparities level decrease. One more step of IT opportunities implementation into the health care system is experience exchange regarding the usage of health plans and the further increase of the diversity of surveys applied. In this way, the variations may include adults’ or children’s data, area or ethnical questionnaires, division by the tendency of some diseases spreading, evaluation of the vaccination trends, and many others.

One more important point beside staff training, experience exchange, and governmental support is the intensification of the dialogue between medical institutions and their services’ consumers. People’s feedback and willingness to help are mainly based on the personal attitude. In its turn, the attitude depends on the customers’ understanding of data collection services aim and the process transparency (Basics of health IT, n. d.). With this target, educational work with existing and potential clients has to be held. It can help to overcome the barrier of misunderstanding and improve communication between parties. Thereby, it can lead to more qualitative and fast way of information accumulation. And disparity level may be decreased as well. The example of Aetna national commercial plan for collecting race and ethnicity records is a proof of the above sentences. Starting from 2002 Aetna gathered information at any point of contact with the client. It was enrollment, customers’ service providing, management presentation, and online portal accessing. Through the years the company provided extremely successful result in the area having covered a large percentage and millions of members’ records assembly on the questions of race, ethnicity, and language. This case showed how the public reaction could be overcome or transformed into more positive in the presence of adequate approach.

After regarding the barriers that exist in modern data collection systems of different levels and strategies that are used nowadays and have to be improved in the future, it is important to emphasize on the usage of the available chances for reaping the benefits IT gives to health care sphere. Informational technology methods are created with the aim of storing, sharing, and analyzing the records. The tools available due to this scheme development expand the abilities of communication between medical staff and patients, for databases creation and enhancement with purposes of customer service, health care, interoperability, etc (Basics of health IT, n. d.).

Without any doubt, the recipe for success is national and states’ financial and legal support of the data collection methods development (Data collection strategies, n. d.). With this aim the international organizations and commissions are working in the direction and achieving the targets. In different countries, regions the information techniques are used with various goals and with the help of different tools. The unification of these approaches will lead to better understanding and further expansion of mechanisms’ applying.

The IT in health care system suffers criticism as well. Cumbersome federal regulations or even physician productivity reduce still remain less weighty factors than the opportunity of data analytics that is provided (Health IT, n. d.). As a result, despite experiencing the challenges, the benefits of IT health care system are highly evaluated nowadays, and their future spreading will present more and more discoveries and results for society and the sphere of health treatment. The latest years brought into action the customers’ number growth who wish and search for “best in field” care, mobile health care applications adoption, cyber security methods of protection strengthening in the sphere, discoveries of the new methods of financially available care for the greater number of consumers, etc (Top health industry issues in 2016). And the list of attainments can be expanded in the next few years, thereby the efforts of society, government, and health care institutions have to be accumulated with this aim.

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