Importance of Information Management in Healthcare
While the image of a doctor or a surgeon might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the healthcare industry, a surprising amount of work is also going on behind the scenes. In the 21st century, health information and data is asserting itself as the equally important counterpart to the more physical aspects of medicine. It's still a developing field, but people interested in health and wellness should be aware of the fact that it has already had a significant impact on the healthcare industry and is only gaining momentum as its full usefulness becomes clear.
What is Tracked, and Why?
The idea of collecting health information is not new, but it is changing in the face of new technology. In the days before computers became prevalent, paper documents were used for record keeping; in institutions that have yet to fully convert to the digital model, this is still how it's done. New digital records are easier to add to and take up no physical space, though, so doctors are becoming able to add more and more critical pieces of information to each patient's record. Currently, many aspects of physical and mental health can be part of a person's health record, including:
- History of significant viral and bacterial illnesses
- Vaccination information
- Diagnosed allergies and other conditions
- Current and past medication and treatment history
- Significant improvements or setbacks during a current hospital stay
All of these pieces of information are critical to the day-to-day care of the millions of patients served by the health care system. Storing all of this knowledge as digital data makes it easy to organize and access, and thus more useful to healthcare professionals serving many patients simultaneously. It also allows patients to experience a continuity of care between the many professionals working on their case, reduces the risk of hand-off errors, and provides a more robust patient profile for diagnostic purposes.
Health information is not only important in a commercial and medical sense, but from a privacy standpoint. People with medical conditions are often vulnerable to abuse and discrimination that can adversely affect them socially, economically and emotionally. Therefore, an individual's personal health records are treated as highly sensitive information that must be kept from unauthorized eyes at all costs.
While a health record should only ever be fully accessible to the patient to which it pertains, some external entities will occasionally have legitimate reasons to look it (as mentioned above, insurance companies, as well as potentially places like schools and government institutions). Getting this information into the hands of the necessary parties without exposing it to the reach of others can be complicated, but it's an essential duty for health information professionals. It's only the careful watch of these workers that keeps everyone's medical data from being used in a malicious or reckless manner.
Judging by current trends, information and data will only become more of a keystone element of the healthcare industry as time goes on. As mentioned previously, many hospitals and care facilities have yet to make the transition to digital data, meaning that the current market for health information services is far smaller than what it can reasonably be expected to be in the coming years.
One of the most promising avenues for future development in the health information sector is actually in preventative care. Industry experts predict that we will soon be using smart devices to monitor healthy people for signs of problems like diabetes and heart disease before they advance to the point of requiring care. This application could have tremendous effects on the rate of expensive chronic illnesses that the health care system must continually treat. It will also require exponentially more health information to be collected, safeguarded and maintained, potentially leading to many new opportunities in the field.
Are you interested in this growing field? If you want to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Health Science with an emphasis in Health Information Management, consider ECPI University for the education you need to make a difference. With classes offered during the morning and evening you can pick what’s right for your schedule. For more information, connect with a helpful admissions advisor today.
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Gainful Employment Information – Health Information Management - Associate’s