Four industry challenges health informatics can solve

The fusion of science and technology plays an integral role in the healthcare industry today. Technology compliments science, reinforcing theories, treating medical conditions and even housing the data in which patient medical history is stored.

This growing demand for tech has developed a subfield in the healthcare industry: health informatics. Bridging the gap created by the science and technology merger, health informatics elevates patient care quality and safety by linking technology, communication and healthcare. Because the healthcare industry is constantly evolving, the need for health informatics is greater than ever before. As a result, more students are pursuing a health informatics degree and learning how to use health informatics to deal with several industry challenges.

Challenge 1: Medical Errors

Unfortunately, errors in the medical field occur. Patients can receive misdiagnoses, wrong prescription dosages or false information about their current health state, which can either harm patients or cause them additional medical problems. Erroneous reports stem from misuse of medical equipment, misread lab reports or improper transfer of medical equipment from clinic-to-clinic. Health informatics helps to reduce the frequency of medical errors and mistakes. Doctors and physicians no longer manually report and analyze diagnoses. Rather, they record and evaluate patient health in an electronic format. Each medical diagnosis or prognosis is categorized by a specific code, eliminating the possibility of falsely collected data or inaccurate reporting.

Challenge 2: Retrieving Medical Records

Patients may have a variety of healthcare providers, ranging from eye specialists to internal medicine physicians to surgeons. Each provider requires access to a patient's medical records, which notifies doctors about a patient's prior health conditions, surgeries and current prescriptions. Previously, most medical providers documented patient health records on paper or via an electronic system only accessible at that specific clinic or hospital. Health informatics helps streamline the medical records retrieval process. Using technology, medical records are now stored on systems called electronic healthcare record (EHR) systems. These systems allow healthcare providers to access a patient's medical history in real-time from any healthcare facility using EHRs.

Challenge 3: Medicare and Medicaid Reimbursement

As a part of the Affordable Healthcare Act, the process for receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement has changed. In order to receive payment for services, medical professionals must comply with the acceptable electronic format of storing and recording patient's medical history. The professionals also must fill out acceptable government electronic forms reporting that the patient received care. Health informatics provides the appropriate forms for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement through EHR systems. It also improves the flow of information to-and-from the doctor and the government; the standardization of information; and the timeliness in which the doctor can submit patient files and then request payment for seeing the patient.

Challenge 4: Ensured Quality and Safety of Care

Health records documented on paper not only leave room for error, but also leave a gap in the patient's safety. Before the Affordable Healthcare Act, most medical records were kept under lock and key at medical clinics, which amplifies the risk of medical records being lost or stolen. Now, healthcare providers and their offices must use EHR systems to house a patient's data. EHR systems help eliminate potential risk by offering a more secure way to store data through encryption services and software. In addition, documents such as SAFER Guides, which are produced under health informatics specialists, are designed to help healthcare providers and organizations amplify EHR safety through self-assessment and proper technological training.

As a healthcare industry subfield, health informatics is dedicated to effectively connecting tech and healthcare through communication, as well as streamline the process of recording, storing, analyzing and accessing patient health documents. The need for health informatics and field specialists is growing at an exponential rate, and it will continue to grow as technology advances.

Lauren Willison
As the Director of Admissions at Florida Polytechnic University, Lauren Willison is responsible for supporting the Executive Director of Enrollment Services and the Associate Director of Admissions in managing recruitment efforts. She develops and coordinates on- and off-campus events, as well as manages the campus visit experience.

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