Understanding What a Health Information System Is
A system designed and created to manage healthcare data is called a Health Information System, or HIS. The primary role of this is to collect, manage, store, and transmit the electronic medical record, or EMR, of a particular patient. It is also responsible for data in a hospital’s operational management, as well as the acting support system for healthcare policy decisions.
Those systems that handle data related to the activities of certain providers are included in the Health Information System. These can be leveraged in order to improve patient outcomes, provide informed research, and even help in policy making and decision making for the organization. Since the Health Information System regularly accesses and maintains highly sensitive data, security has become an issue.
Health Information System Examples
Anyone in healthcare, such as patients, doctors, clinical staff, and public health officials, can all make use of a Health Information System. This compiles data that can later be used to assist in making health-related decisions.
Examples of such systems include the following:
Practice Management Software
This software is designed to assist in daily operations involved in healthcare, such as scheduling and billing. This is used in most hospitals and clinics in order to perform daily administrative tasks.
Electronic Health Record or Electronic Medical Record
These two terms basically refer to the same thing. This is an electronic record of a patient’s health history, which includes lab tests done and results, pre-existing conditions, treatments, and all other necessary information that a health practitioner would need to make proper decisions in treating a patient. This is probably one of the most common Health Information Systems today.
Portals for Patients
These Health Information Systems allow patients to access and view their personal health data, which include medications, appointments, schedules with doctors, lab results, and much more, through an internet connection. It also allows them to communicate with healthcare professionals, such as making appointments or requesting prescription refills.
Master Patient Index
Patient records can be separated through different databases, so it is the job of the Master Patient Index to compile all these records. It makes finding information easier and at the same time, removes the hassle of having to maintain several duplicate records.
Remote Patient Monitoring
This is a convenient Health Information System, since it allows medical personnel to receive patient data. It can monitor different things such as glucose levels and blood pressure. By monitoring these, medical personnel know when they need to intervene.
Clinical Decision Support
This Health Information System analyzes the different data it can get from clinical and administrative systems of the organization and compiles them. This can help in clinical decisions by providing health personnel with the data they need.
Benefits of Having Health Information Systems
When it comes right down to it, Health Information Systems can be beneficial to healthcare institutions. It provides them with:
- Collaborative Care: With the use of these systems, patients can now be treated collaboratively, since facilities can now share their data.
- Data Analytics: All the data are correlated and compiled by these systems, which help in making decisions. This improves overall patient care, which is the most important factor for healthcare institutions.
- Controlled Costs: Digital networks allow for cost savings, since data sharing has become more efficient.
- Population Health Management: The aggregated data collected by these systems can identify trends within the population, which can lead to better decision making and preparations.
Health Information System Best Practices
As mentioned earlier, the primary concern for Health Information Systems is security. Since these manage sensitive information, it is vital that they are protected from malicious attacks. The HIPAA, or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, provides guidelines on how to ensure the safety and security of these data.
For secure systems, organizations need to:
- Train their employees on cybersecurity best practices.
- Encrypt all data used.
- Monitor data and system usage.
- Back up all data regularly.
- Purchase insurance.
- Make use of multifactor authentication.
- Access vendor accountability.
By following these best practices, organizations can help ensure the security of the data used by their Health Information Systems.
Julia Sowells960 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.