Healthcare is a multi-billion dollar industry that consists of billions of financial and informational transactions each year. It is a must that timely, accurate and reliable clinical and administrative information be delivered. This is essential for successful, high-quality and cost-effective delivery of services and organizational management. Consequently, reliable information systems are important for managing relevant health data, and information systems are also integral to how various aspects of a healthcare organization function. For example, a nurse administering medications, a doctor explaining research findings to a patient, a billing clerk filing claims or a CEO needing justification to upgrade a hospital department all need access to accurate and timely data (Wager, Lee, & Glaser, 2009). With this being the case, the importance of the study of information systems in modern healthcare is evident.
Reasons Information Systems are Important in Modern Healthcare
As noted, the healthcare industry is vast and it is information intensive. Effective information systems are the best way to manage and control healthcare data and relevant information essential to the functioning of healthcare facilities.
According to Fichman, Kohli, & Krishnan (2011), information systems in healthcare are also important for controlling and managing cost by streamlining processes and eliminated unnecessary administrative work. Additionally, information systems keep cost down by allowing for more organization and consolidation of the tasks and responsibilities of healthcare staff. In addition, information systems are essential for records management and storing, processing and communicating accurate and timely information to healthcare staff, particularly the decision makers. This allows for more concise coordination of care and organizational management (Fichman, Kohli, & Kirshnan, 2011).
Modern healthcare also needs modern information systems to facilitate high-quality, state-of-the-art clinical, procedural and diagnostic techniques to improve the quality of care to patients. Medicinal protocols, diagnoses and treatment research and information are more easily administered with reliable information, and this is easily obtained with adequate healthcare information systems in place.
Another important aspect of why healthcare information systems are important is the need for accuracy. Healthcare mistakes are detrimental to patients, society and the healthcare organization. People’s lives are at stake many times when they are in the care of a health facility, and accuracy can mean the difference between life and death to someone. Proper healthcare information systems can reduce the risk of healthcare errors because health data and other pertinent information is better organized and stored and is more quickly accessible (Fichman, Kohli, & Kirshnan, 2011).
Additionally, healthcare data is highly sensitive information that must be protected. This is another reason why information systems are important in the healthcare industry. Healthcare facilities are liable under regulatory guidelines concerning protected health information and must do everything possible to keep patient information confidential. Without adequate information systems, this is difficult.
There are many more reasons why the study of information systems in modern healthcare is important; however, they all boil down to the fact that healthcare is an interdisciplinary industry with various departmental functions, specialized personnel and a vast and diverse populous of patients. Consequently, information systems are necessary for the organization of data and to ensure a high quality of service to patients and the highest level of integrity through governance.
Fichman, R. G., Kohli, R., & Krishnan, R. (2011, September). The Role of Information Systems in Healthcare: Current Research and Future Trends. Information Systems Research, 22(3), 419-428.
Wager, K. A., Lee, F. W., & Glaser, J. P. (2009). Health Care Information Systems: A Practical Approach for Health Care Management (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.