History of Informatics, Essay Example

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Essay

There has been a significant change to the field of medicine and science within the past fifty years and these changes have greatly improved the way patients receive care as well as the ability to diagnose diseases and treatment options earlier. The entire scope of healthcare has evolved due to the implementation of various devices and technological advancements which have allowed doctors to increase the mortality and quality of life for groups of individuals who previously were not able to enjoy these benefits. This article will describe five milestones in the history of informatics and how they have allowed our healthcare community the ability to positively impact lives.

The use of computers has been the hallmark of the informatics era and has allowed the healthcare community to process data, assimilate information, and visualize routine and complex surgical procedures that would have been unheard of in the past. This has allowed more effective and less invasive surgeries for patients which directly decreases the risks for nosocomial infections and post-surgical complications as well as decreased recovery time and inpatient hospital admissions.

Robert Ledly, known as one of the founding fathers of United States informatics, invented the first full body CT machine (The history of health informatics, 2011). This invention, while most likely crude in comparison to our modern day CT and MRI imaging technological advances, was a tremendous step in the direction of accurately diagnosing disease processes by radiographic methodology rather than surgical invasiveness. It allowed patients the ability to have their bodies scanned and viewed for tumors, cysts, or other foreign material without being subjected to general anesthesia and the risks of medication errors, recovery time, and healing.

A system known as MYCIN was created through Stanford University as an effort to assist physicians in the identification of bacteria when there were several different strains in question. This system allowed for the identification of the bacteria and the recommendation of antibiotics and treatment dosages that would be susceptible in killing the particular strains needed (The history of health informatics, 2011). It also had a feature that was supposedly capable of treating coagulation abnormalities. It never was used in actual medical practice, but led the way for other inventions that would be used in physicians’ offices and laboratories around the globe.

The most significant application of health informatics since the introduction of computers has undoubtedly been the implementation of electronic medical records (van der Lei, 2002). After the passage of HIPAA in 1996, it was evident that something must change in the delivery and storage of sensitive information when it concerned patients and their medical history and information. Electronic medical records have greatly helped the healthcare community due to the benefits associated with a decrease in medication errors and patient errors.

Before the implementation of electronic medical records in hospitals across the nation, there were a significant number of deaths associated with medication errors and even a higher number of increased hospital stays due to the wrong medications being administered and patients suffering adverse effects. After electronic medical records began being utilized in larger area hospitals, these instances began to decrease exponentially. More patients received the correct medications and the correct dosages at the specified timed intervals prescribed by physicians. While this did put a greater burden on nursing personnel at the beginning due to the mandatory requirement to learn a new system and integrate it into an already busy work day, the benefits greatly outweighed any disadvantages to the system. Today the implementation of electronic medical records is being rolled out across the country in rural and smaller hospitals along with physicians’ offices and other institutions as a proactive measure for patient safety and privacy.

Lastly, point of care testing has been an area of positive impact from an informatics perspective. It has allowed a decrease in the amount of blood sample required for frequent patient testing and also allowed for laboratory testing to be brought inside the patient’s room, thus increasing turnaround times for things such as blood gases, glucose monitoring, and other such tests that physicians might require immediate results so treatment can be planned accordingly (Kuhn, et al., 2008). This also has helped decrease the workload for laboratory personnel and has helped with the communication between the laboratory and nursing staff due to the machines being handled by nursing personnel almost exclusively.

Healthcare informatics, as one can see, has greatly increased the ability to offer a better quality of care for patients and a more accurate level of care while keeping privacy concerns under control. It has helped improve the workload for healthcare staff and decreased the stress levels once the initial learning curve period has passed. There have been vast improvements to the field over the past several years and there will continue to be great strides as we journey along the technological journey and attempt to provide the best and most accurate care possible with the best technology that scientific minds are able to envision.

References

The history of health informatics. (2011). Retrieved from Health Informatics and Health Information Management: http://healthinformatics.uic.edu/history-of-health-informatics/

Kuhn, K., Knoll, A., Mewes, H., Schwaiger, M., Bode, A., Broy, M., Mayr, E. (2008). Informatics and medicine: From molecules to populations. Methods Inf Med., 47(4), 283-295.

van der Lei, J. (2002). Closing the loop between clinical practice, research, and education: The potential of electronic patient records. Methods Inf Med., 41(1), 54-54.

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