A Deeper Look into Today’s Electronic Health Record
Professor Shelye Mishler
March 25, 2013
In the healthcare arena, information is everywhere and it is accessed and utilized by everyone. Information is the lifeblood of any organization and no organization would exist without it (Phillips, 2005). Regardless if the information is in paper form or accessed through a computer, there is a process needed to locate, retrieve, and evaluate the information. Since the onset of former President George W. Bush's steps to transform the health care delivery system through the adoption of interoperable electronic health records (EHR), the nation has shifted toward the use of EHR (Dunlop, 2007). The very basics consist of data which is an uninterrupted element. A collection of data is processed and then displayed as information. When data and information are brought together, knowledge results and decisions can be made.
The electronic health record consists of any information as related to the patient's past, present or future conditions both mental and physical (Englebardt & Nelson, 2002) from birth to death. The key to EHRs and the vision to reduce patient errors while attaining optimal patient outcomes is interoperability. Interoperability enables the patient's information to become accessible and shared to providers and other healthcare systems when and where they need it. It is true to say that interoperability is fundamental to the success of EHRs (Heubusch, 2006). EHRs and the electronic world healthcare is entering will be creating an enormous amount of information that will necessitate organization and management.
Health care produces vast amounts of information. This information must be collected, monitored, stored, retrieved and utilized to be beneficial to an organization. Quality of care is directly related to the quality of information available to healthcare professionals (Elliott & Watson, 2007) and managing such information is crucial. Systems would become fragmented and would no longer be beneficial if information lacks planning and organization.
When we consider data, we think of it to be a fact about something or anything such as an object, thing or event. One piece of fact is considered one piece of data; therefore a collection of data that is structured is considered a database. In the healthcare arena, imagine all the pieces of data that are created and structured into a database. The healthcare industry is in a time of great change where the adoption of electronic healthcare records (EHR) are opening new opportunities for medical knowledge that will enhance the quality of care, reduce costs and promote services for physicians, nurses, administrators and consumers (Fickenscher, 2005). The adoption of EHRs will also inherit the vast amount of data that are generated through the health care process (Prather, Lobach, Goodwin, Hales, Hage & Hammond, 1997) whereas the data will be retrieved, accesses, evaluated and analyzed. This is made possible by a database management system (DBMS) which is a program that enables a user to manage, organize, store, and retrieve data and information from a database (Englebardt & Nelson, 2002). A database is the file cabinet that stores the data in a computerized hierarchy of field, record and file (Englebardt & Nelson, 2005).
A critical issue to information technology and electronic health records is the privacy, confidentiality and security of all health information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 has forced hospitals to change polices regarding privacy and confidentiality (Homsted L., 2007). Security of health information is not only mandated by the hospitals but it is the law as authorized by the Department of Health and Human Services. To alleviate the issues, hospitals are responsible for utilizing technologies to safeguard inappropriate use for...
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