Strong Data Infrastructure
The global goal in the health sector is to improve the access and quality of health care. The rising level of chronic diseases and multi-morbidity; the need for measures and assurance for value for money in health investments; increasing concerns on patient safety and quality of care and the vital need to allocate the health system with resources efficiently are important issues that require informed decision making (Broyles, 2016). The need for informed decision making in the health sector subsequently creates the need to have a robust data infrastructure system.
When data is readily accessible and integrated to enable sharing, access to health and its quality is surely improved. The use of technology in current health care provision is inevitable and patients and the professionals are resilient to accepting less of the technology that they have experienced. In order for better decision making and performance of the health care sector, every system should thus embrace the need to have a strong data infrastructure that facilitates data exchange amongst various health care providers. A robust information infrastructure in the health care system basically increases the chances of improved quality of health services and reduced cost of accessing health care (Brailer, 2005).
The dynamic nature of the health care system demands that various individuals with different skills come together to curb various health issues. One way of improving health care quality is by way of integrated health care. This brings together professionals from different fields in the health sector to work on a given project. Information sharing is a pillar of this practice and thus it calls for an effective platform for accessing information (Safran et al, 2007). Contemporary quality care demand that the biological, social and psychological concerns of the patients are addressed. It would be next to impossible for a single professional to achieve this standard if they were to apply their specialized knowledge and skills. When the information on a patient is shared by a team of professionals by the use of a strong data infrastructure system, the patient stands high chances of receiving the desired quality care (Wang, 2017).
Increased mobile health services is a feature that the health systems in various countries are exhibiting. Doctors are highly relying on mobile services to deliver to their patients and professionally communicate with other involved in health care service delivery. This creates the need for reliable and effective system that avails the requisite data for such mobile procedures to be successful. Wireless connectivity and capability is thus a vital component of health care service delivery when mobile health care is to be provided. Connectivity is essential especially when reacting to emergencies experienced in the medical sector. In such cases, vital decisions that define lives are made within a short time by people communicating in most instances from different points (Brongersma et al, 2014). Informed decision making is essential when dealing with emergencies and mobile health services. Availability and access of data guarantees not necessarily accurate but informed decisions. This indicates why the health system can really benefit from having in place a robust data infrastructure system. Mobile health which is the common practice associated with connectivity relies on access to patient data. With a strong data system, the patients’ records are stored on a common platform that as much as easy access when required is assured, the information is treated by the policies of privacy and confidentiality. Mobile health services do not have to rely on the networks which are prone to failure and risk the patients’ life (Wang, 2017).
A robust data infrastructure system improves work automation. Delivery of quality healthcare services has great dependence on records. Work automation in healthcare involves reduction of human involvement in service delivery. Through appropriate technology, some tasks that have been defined in the system can be performed without having to involve the human resource. This addresses the challenge of the ratio of the health professionals to patients that has been a challenge in achieving for most health systems. The aging population and the increased people requiring health services creates a challenge for any organization or government to sufficiently staff their health institutions. With an automated system, some of the services such are recording and retrieving information, prescriptions and minor outpatient cases can be handle with no or less human involvement. This is made successful if the data structure is designed and defined in a manner that there are guidelines and procedures for completion of such tasks without a professional not necessarily being involved. The other services that require human skill involvement then gets a boost of extra human resource and the staffing challenge is addressed to some point. Implementing a robust data infrastructure that allows for automation is in the long run is cost effective (Benson, 2016). When the costs of delivering the health care services are reduced, the cost of accessing them reasonably reduces and the quality is likely to improve. The aim of every health care system is to ensure people have access to affordable and quality health care services and this can be achieved to some extend by automation facilitated by a robust data infrastructure system (Broyles et al, 2016).
A blend of electronic health records (EHRs) and improved exchange of health information from is a form of data security. The tendency of hackers breaching hospital systems and rendering them incapable to offer health care services especially when the hackers demand for ‘ransom’ before they can let the systems continue operating. Such incidences inhibit the health institutions from accessing the patient files and other important information to their treatment. An example is the Methodist Hospital in Kentucky that had it data encrypted by an attacker until they pay up (Krebs, 2016). The situation does not only threaten the operations of such an institution but also the lives of the patients is at stake. Even if the patients are to seek the medical services from other institutions, their information would be lacking and the health professional dealing with them would find it hard to make informed decisions. Such a situation can be remedied when a robust data infrastructure system is in place. If various organizations can share data and have a secure infrastructure that abides by the regulations on privacy and confidentially, incidences of failure of their individual systems will not affect the delivery of health care services to the extent they do when they are the sole custodians of such information. Patients will enjoy more safety if information is kept and their progress updated in systems which cannot entirely be incapacitated (Sittig & Wright, 2015).
Electronic health records and a robust data infrastructure system are vital components of contemporary health care provision. The technological advancement and embracement in the health care system has indicated results that every stakeholder and participant would not like to see fall. Having a strong data infrastructure will facilitate data entry, recording storage, access and security subsequently assuring informed decision making (Brailer, 2005). Improvement in provision of health care services other than depending on the knowledge and skills of the health professionals, relies on their ability to make informed decisions which is enabled by existence of a strong data infrastructure system (Brongersma et al, 2014).
Benson, T. (2016). Principles of Health Interoperability. Springer.
Brailer, D. J. (2005). Interoperability: the key to the future health care system. Health affairs, 24, W5.
Brongersma, S. H., Blauw, M., Zevenbergen, M., Karabacak, D., Vitushinsky, R., Van Anh Dam, M. C. C., … & van Schaijk, R. (2014). More Moore meets More than Moore: Enabling healthcare applications. physica status solidi (c), 1(11), 46-49.
Broyles, D., Dixon, B. E., Crichton, R., Biondich, P., & Grannis, S. J. (2016). The evolving health information infrastructure. In Health Information Exchange: Navigating and Managing a Network of Health Information Systems. Elsevier Inc..
Krebs, B. (2016). Hospital Declares ‘Internal State of Emergency’After Ransomware Infection.
Safran, C., Bloomrosen, M., Hammond, W. E., Labkoff, S., Markel-Fox, S., Tang, P. C., & Detmer, D. E. (2007). Toward a national framework for the secondary use of health data: an American Medical Informatics Association White Paper. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 14(1), 1-9.
Sittig, D. F., & Wright, A. (2015). What makes an EHR “open” or interoperable?. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 22(5), 1099-1101.
Wang, E. H. (2017). A M-HEALTH PLATFORM FOR SUPPORTING CLINICAL DATA INTEGRATION AND SERVICE DELIVERY: AN EXAMPLE FROM AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION INTERVENTION (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh).