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Health Information and New Technologies, Term Paper Example

Pages: 8

Words: 2239

Term Paper

In the contemporary globalized world of technological advancement, there is not a single aspect of human life that is not influenced by various technological improvements and modifications. The field of healthcare is not an exception. The development of new technologies made health information more accessible and also more accurate, which provides new perspectives in healthcare. The aim of this paper is to discuss the importance of health information, it use by various stakeholders, its contribution to the provision of quality and the consequent future of information technology.

The importance of health information

Just like any type of information, the importance of health information is in the knowledge it helps to develop. In this regard, the processing of health information provides the final user with knowledge of one’s health condition and consequent variations of treatment. In other words, the widespread availability of health information contributes to the increased awareness of various stakeholders regarding health issues and consequent medical implications (Blumenthal, 2009).

Moreover, the availability of health information gives patients an opportunity to make conscious decisions about their health and the use of various prescriptions. In some cases, health information can contribute to the development of preemptive means of various chronic illnesses. In this regard, through health awareness based on person’s exposure to health information, an individual can develop resistance to various illnesses by taking precautions, changing lifestyle and dietary preferences (Ortiz and Clancy, 2003). In this context, the importance of heath information is that it makes population more conscious about health and also the importance of healthy lifestyle in preventing various illnesses and in the case of their occurrence the ways of potential treatment.

The importance of availability of health information is that it when patients are aware of information; it is much easier for the doctors to explain the details of certain conditions rather than start full explanation of the illness and its treatments from basics to the individual features. In this regard, the importance of health information is that it contributes to time-efficiency of medical performance and consequent opportunity to treat more patients within a certain timeframe (Blumenthal, 2009).

On the other hand, health information can have all mentioned above benefits if it corresponds to certain criteria. First of all, health information is useful if it is accurate and up-to-date. Although with the development of information technologies, the availability of information spread, the issue of accuracy has also become more essential, especially in the case of health information. In other words, in order to secure accuracy and consistency of health information with the existing healthcare system, only official and reliable sources should be used (Chaudhry et al., 2006). If the alternative sources are used, often the information can be altered for the use for promotion of certain pharmaceuticals. Moreover, when the internet information contradicts doctor’s prescription, patient’s trust and consent following prescriptions can be undermined. As a result, inaccurate or distorted health information can be a threat for the efficiency of medical treatment (Ortiz and Clancy, 2003).

Consequently, in order to be asset health information should be reliable, comparative and accessible for the final users. In terms of reliability, health information should be unbiased based on relevant and up-to-date evidence. In this regard, since with the development of new technologies, information about human body increases significantly, consequent approaches to treatment can change fast and differ from the previous ones (Blumenthal, 2009). In terms of comparative nature, information should provide both pros and cons of various treatments together with the benefit of the lack of treatment in some cases. In terms of accessibility, health information should be adapted and simplified for the understanding of a wider audience. In this case, the overall awareness of health information would be achieved (Blumenthal, 2009).

The use of health information by various stakeholders

Another essential aspect to consider in terms of health information is how it is used by diverse stakeholders, particularly individuals, professionals, and organizations. From the individuals’ perspective, health information is primarily used to enable:

individuals or their relatives or carers to make informed decisions regarding health.

 These decisions may centre around health promoting practices, keeping well, self-treatment or seeking advice and treatment. More specifically, health information can inform people about good health, self-care, specific conditions, screening, treatment options, access to services, what they offer and how they perform” (Report, 2002, p. 5).

Thus, it can be argued that individual users of health information apply it in order to improve the understanding of their own health conditions and also to be able to help their relatives. Moreover, in terms of individual purposes, health information contributes to the improvement of decision-making regarding one’s condition (Blumenthal, 2009). In this regard, the increased awareness about health makes decision-making more timely which is often crucial in treatment (Chaudhry et al., 2006).

From the professional perspective, health information is crucial for the medical practice in all its complexity. First of all, medical practitioners need relevant information about contemporary advancement in the treatment of various illnesses. They also need up-to-date knowledge of which new drugs are appearing on the market and how efficient they are in contrast to the traditional ones. Moreover, they also require a current and detailed history of their patients that under the conditions of the globalized world often move around the world (). Thus, doctors require full anamnesis of their patients, new options for treatment and scientific evidence of the contemporary trends in the clinical research. All these aspects of health information are crucial for the accuracy, timeliness and efficiency of diagnosis and consequent treatment (Blumenthal, 2009).

In this regard, professionals use health information in order to explore their patients’ health history in terms of physical and psychological aspects of health; find out the best practice or potential negative cases of different treatments across various ethno-cultural groups and health conditions. Moreover, often patients have various combinations of health conditions, treatment of which should be incredibly individualized. In such cases, health information regarding practical case studies of treatment of the similar conditions is of particular relevance for the professionals (Chaudhry et al., 2006).

From the perspective of organizations, organizations can be divided into two categories: private pharmaceutical companies and institutions as a part of the system of healthcare. Private companies use the existing health information in order to develop certain drugs that would fit both market and health requirements (Ortiz and Clancy, 2003). In other words, pharmaceutical companies both use the existing health information about treatment of various illnesses for the development of the new drugs and thus also contribute to the current health information through their own research and clinical testing of the new products (Blumenthal, 2009).

From the perspective of healthcare institutions, they use health information for the improvement of medical treatment and provided services. In this regard, health information is exchange across network institutions in order to make sure that the most recent data and clinical research are available across various hospitals irrespective of the geographic location and that doctors can use up-to-date information in their practice (Chaudhry et al., 2006). Thus, from the perspective of medical institutions, health information is used to enhance the quality of performance across diverse hospitals.

Health information can improve the provision of quality

Although, at the first glance, it may seem that health information is mostly beneficial for the overall awareness of various stakeholders, it is also crucial for the improvement of the quality of provided medical services. For instance, the application of health information technologies can help in the improvement of patient safety through the reduction of medical errors. The project of the Clinical Informatics to Promote Patient Safety (CLIPS) is an IT program aimed at the reduction of medical errors. This target is achieved through the application of various data collection of technologies to improve the accuracy of the information doctors receive about their patients:

Many proposals involved research using handheld wireless devices, electronic medical record systems, computerized decision support tools, or electronic prescribing applications. Other areas of proposed research included simulation models for education and training, automated error alerting mechanisms, structured electronic data sets, digital eye technology, database applications, computerized patient self-monitoring and communication tools, wearable mini computers, biometric technology, Internet and intranet applications, cognitive science and human factor engineering” (Ortiz and Clancy, 2003, p. 14).

This example demonstrates that the accuracy of health information is the primary precondition of qualified and efficient diagnosis and treatment. Thus, through the improvement of doctor’s awareness of the detailed and up-to-date information, the accuracy and quality of the service are improved (Blumenthal, 2009).

Moreover, as it was already outlined, medical practice is based on dealing with patients that have combined health conditions, and the development of the most functional treatment often takes time and requires a few attempt. In this regard, the quality and timeliness of treatment could be improved if doctors had access to the database that contained previous case studies, patient histories and treatment results of different prescriptions (Chaudhry et al., 2006). Access to such information would eliminate some potential treatments and help in optimizing the effect of the right one within the shortest timeframe (Blumenthal, 2009).

Health information regarding patient’s history, including the results of previous tests and reaction to treatment is the crucial factor in the effect decision-making regarding diagnosis and treatment. Although it may seem that conversation with the patient is enough to collect relevant data, the practice demonstrates that while a patient cannot be reliable source of information and the time devoted to the preliminary interview is often limited, database of patient’s detailed medical history is more accurate and effective in diagnosing and prescription of treatment (Chaudhry et al., 2006). Thus, with the more efficient and timely diagnosis and treatment, the quality of medical services improves.

Furthermore, the improved awareness and efficiency of diagnosing and treatment, give doctors an opportunity to see more patients, making their performance more effective within the same timeframe, which has been one of the main issues in the system of health care (). In this regard, the issue of time spent per patient would become less essential rather than the efficiency of that time and accuracy of the diagnosis and prescribed treatment, which are the primary evaluative criterion in the assessment of doctors’ performance.

Possible future of information technology

At the current pace of development information technologies, particularly those related to health information, will continue to spread in various aspect of human activity. In terms of the medical practice, information technologies will become an inevitable part of patients’ health data collection, processing, diagnosing and finding the right treatment (Blumenthal, 2009). The relevance and actual necessity of information technologies are conditioned by the increasing workload that system of health care experiences with each year. In this regard, with increasing number of [population worldwide and intensification of human life and relatively long time for the new medical practitioners to join the practice, information technologies will be the primary source of the improvement of efficiency and quality of healthcare services (Chaudhry et al., 2006).

Moreover, information technologies will spread further in the healthcare sector since they have significant contribution to the decrease of utilization of healthcare services:

Eight showed decreased rates of health service utilization; computerized provider order-entry systems that provided decision support at the point of care were the primary interventions leading to decreased utilization. Types of decision support included automated calculation of preset probability for diagnosis tests, display of previous test results, display of laboratory test costs, and computerized reminders. Absolute decreases in utilization rates ranged from 8.5 to 24 percentage points”(Chaudhry et al., 2006, p. 745).

Thus, it can be argued that information technologies will continue to spread in healthcare in two ways. First of all, the initial diagnosis systems at home and online would decrease the number of patients using medicals services with the false or insignificant health conditions. Thus, it can be achieved through the various interactive home and online health information devices (Chaudhry et al., 2006). Secondly, information technologies will be used to optimize diagnosing and prescription of the most suitable treatment. In this regard, information exchange databases and consequent portable devices for their access will develop so that doctors could access relevant information from anywhere and anytime (Ortiz and Clancy, 2003). Moreover, further improvement of technologies regarding monitoring of patients conditions will take place since it is one of the crucial aspects of health information. The aforementioned CLIPS project is the best example of the current trends in information technology development in the field of health care.

Conclusion

Overall, from all mentioned above, it can be concluded that health information is a crucial factor in the improvement of the contemporary system of health care. It is beneficial for individuals in their health awareness and decision-making. It is helpful for professionals in diagnosing and prescribing the right treatment and it also assists organizations in the improvement of their performance. Moreover, health information and consequent technologies can improve the quality and efficiency of provided services through the optimization of the relevant and timely data. They also help in improvement of patients’ safety by reducing medical errors. In the future, information technologies will be widespread in various aspects of healthcare.

References

Blumenthal, D. (2009). Stimulating the Adoption of Health Information Technology. The New England Journal of Medicine, 360, 1477-1479.

Chaudhry. B et al. (2006). Systematic Review: Impact of Health Information Technology on Quality, Efficiency, and Costs of Medical Care. Annals of Internal Medicine, 144(10), 742-752.

Ortiz, E. and Clancy, C. (2003). Use of Information Technology to Improve the Quality of Health Care in the United States. Health Services Research, 38(2), 11-22.

Welsh Assembly Government (2002). Framework for best practice: the production and use of health information for the public. Retrieved from http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/Documents/420/framework_bestpractice_e1.pdf.

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