In practicing clinical medicine, computers and programs are often used. These computers and programs are part of an information system. Clinical informatics is the study of such information systems which governs the practice of clinical medicine. Some of the facets of clinical informatics are data entry, telemedicine, imaging, data display and decision support.
A usual example is of a nurse taking the temperature of the patient. The nurse is using a point-of-care device to measure the temperature which will be transmitted to the electronic health record of the patient.
Even with the absence of the physical slides, a pathologist in Bethesda can conduct a review of the strange tumor found in a young male in the rural areas of California.
As technology progresses, new models of CT scanners can have the latest algorithms of software that can display 3-dimensional images. These 3D images could show vital structures’ reconstruction.
This can be best described by graphs of median or even mean values using raw numbers. This will make things easier for a clinician conducting a review. In addition, abnormal vital signs can be highlighted.
Urgency of feedback at the ordering entry time is very essential especially about allergies of the patient and interactions amongst drugs. This is essential because it has proven to decrease the costs of healthcare as well as the morbidity of the patient.
Clinical informatics can greatly affect an individual as shown in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Under the HIPAA, keeping insurance for employees who changes their jobs would be less troublesome. HIPAA contains a section on Administrative Simplification which is about the technology plans that would be used to make data transfer simpler. If you have used electronic billing for services involving health care since October of 2003, you have followed the transaction regulations of HIPAA. Take note that Medicare considers this as a requirement except if you stated you are a small practice in your record. There is no doubt that you have known about the privacy rules that has been in effect since April 2003 from business partners, health plans or hospitals.
Another way that clinical informatics can affect you is shown in the IOM report. The IOM report stated that there are about 100,000 medical errors yearly. This concern about medical errors was brought to the public. As a response to the report, another IOM report came out suggesting the use of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems. According to this report, CPOE systems would decrease medical errors if this technology is implemented.
The third means of clinical informatics affecting someone is through the National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII). The effort of developing a NHII was initiated by Dr. David Brailer, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology director, who was appointed by the Bush administration. The main objective of NHII is to make the patient information anywhere in the country in a digital or electronic format so it can be transmitted from its original storage area to where the patient is currently being treated if the need arises. It is noted though that there are clearly no plans for a central database containing patient information.
Implementation for the NHII is targeted to take about seven years. To achieve this objective, financial incentives are under the works to aid and encourage the acceptance of Electronic Health Records or EHRs.