Your hosts here at HIE are happy to share the bully pulpit on occasion with folks who want to put their 2 cents in about moving information around to make care better. So, here is piece by guest blogger Alexis Bonari.
How it would work.
A comprehensive Health Information System would encompass all of the patient’s medical records. Often, a patient might forget to report a treatment they had undergone years in the past. When seeking treatment for a more current problem, the doctor overseeing the case might benefit from knowing about the previous procedure or diagnosis.
Prevention is key.
Further, the past case history might be used to develop a preventative care plan for given potential illnesses. Let’s say, for example, that a patient had suffered from an eating disorder during their adolescence. That person would be more likely to experience the effects of weakened bones and teeth later in their adult life. A few simple preventative measures would potentially prevent them from losing teeth due to calcium deficiency or from allowing osteoporosis to gain a foothold. Without access to their adolescent medical records, a doctor wouldn’t have the information necessary to create such a plan.
The power of statistics.
Over the long term, a Health Information System would allow the medical community to track the health of the nation, individuals, families, and certain demographics. No longer would we have to rely upon statistical sampling techniques to determine the exact incidence of cancer in a given population. We would already have the data available. Currently, data used to determine such statistics is expensive and difficult to gather.
Further, families could identify disease trends over multiple generations. As more is understood about the genetic component of certain types of cancers, etc. a statistical model could be produced for each individual that would predict the likelihood that they would develop particular diseases or conditions. Once again, preventative care could be tailored to the specific needs of the individual.
The primary concern when creating a Health Information System would be the problem of patient privacy. If steps weren’t taken to prevent it, financially interested individuals and organizations, such as health insurance companies and any government health organization, might use the information obtained as justification to withhold or limit treatment from currently healthy individuals. This problem would have to be foreseen and prevented from the inception of the Health Information System. Ideally, the system should only be used for improving patient care and for disease prevention.
Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various accredited online degree programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.