The healthcare sector is among the fields that have, over the years, seen calls from various quarters for improvement of services for better healthcare and population health. While the stakeholders have explored various initiatives to help improve the sector, improvements have been witnessed to varying degrees. Among the top efforts that have overseen a revolution in healthcare is Health Information Technology (Wager et al., 2017). Various definitions have been used for health information technology. For instance, it is the electronic systems that those offering healthcare, and to an extent, patients use in storing, sharing, and analyzing information. The potential of health information technology improving patient care quality and safety and efficiency means that standards are vital so that the wide options available for technological applications are effectively and harmlessly used to achieve the expected goals. This paper explores the standards for health information technology in the US health care system and some of the improvements needed.
Importance of Health Information Technology Standards
The enormous size of the healthcare sector requires the use of standards for health information technology applications. There are various reasons why the standards of health information technology are vital. To start with, the standards ensure that there is the protection of patient’s privacy and health. Applications of technology like electronic health records ensure that healthcare institutions have a lot of private information on patients. Such private and confidential information can cause serious harm and suffering to the patients if they leak or access granted to unauthorized individuals (Ross et al.,2016). Therefore, standards ensure that such information only remains in the hands of authorized health care professionals. Another reason as to why standards are vital is that it ensures documentation integrity. Documentation integrity means that the patient data collected by the providers are kept up to date and correct (Zang et al., 2016)). With the documentation integrity well observed, the patient records are both complete and accurate since it covers areas such as information governance, authorship validation as well as validation or the records kept.
Another importance of standards is to guard against the commission of healthcare fraud and abuse by the healthcare organizations. Healthcare fraud can have long-lasting effects on both the offender and the victim. Organizations can easily commit fraud and abuse against patients through actions such as faulty billing and business processes, and therefore health information technology standards ensure that such cases are minimized (Ross et al.,2016). The next reason why health information technology is vital is that it ensures that there is data interoperability. Interoperability refers to “the extent to which systems and devices can exchange data, and interpret that shared data. For two systems to be interoperable, they must be able to exchange data and subsequently present that data such that it can be understood by a user” (Ross et al., 2016). The standards, therefore, ensures that various measures are taken to ensure that the data is sharable and can be well understood by the intended users. And finally, the standards are vital since they help in improving patient care outcomes and safety. Using the information technology in an inappropriate manner can endanger the lives of the patients; therefore, standards spell what the care providers need to do or follow to ensure that patient safety comes fast before anything. The end result is improved patient care.
Quality Reporting Document Architecture (QRDA)
Among the most vital health information technology standards that influence my organization is the quality reporting document architecture. It is a safety standard applied in data submission and used for various initiatives for quality reporting and measurement initiatives. The standards ensure that the reporting method for quality measure leads to consistent and structured formats which can be utilized in exchanging electronic quality measure data between various systems. The standard also prompts Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) Release 2 for electronic clinical quality measure exchange. The office of Health Information Technology adopted QRDA as a standard to help in supporting both provider’s aggregate and individual patient quality reporting approaches to data submission (Dolin et al., 2015). The standards, therefore, ensured that the organization effectively submitted data and practiced quality reporting.
Standard That Needs Improvement
While several existing standards of health information technology have done well and operate to guide the sector, some still need improvements. One of such is the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise standard; this is a standard set to help in improving sharing of information in healthcare using computer systems. The standard boosts an integrated use of some standards such as HL7 and DICOM in addressing particular clinical needs to yield optimal patient care (Kim, 2015). Among the effects of the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise standard is that the systems created following its protocol have better intercommunications, help the care providers in using information more effectively, and are also easier to implement. One aspect of the standard that needs improvement is conditions of flexibility for adopting the standard to a different organization. The security issue is still an optional element in the standard, and I feel that it is one of the biggest omissions and needs to be improved. The possible solution is using an integrated security approach to improve it.
In conclusion, standards for health information technology are essential in ensuring that patient safety and treatment are achieved within the confines of acceptable standards. While most of the standards have been effective to a large extent, some parts still need improvements for better quality and improved care delivery.
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Ross, J., Stevenson, F., Lau, R., & Murray, E. (2016). Factors that influence the implementation of e-health: a systematic review of systematic reviews (an update). Implementation science, 11(1), 1-12. Doi: 10.1186/s13012-016-0510-7
Wager, K. A., Lee, F. W., & Glaser, J. P. (2017). Health care information systems: a practical approach for health care management. John Wiley & Sons.
Zhang, Y., Sun, Y., & Xie, B. (2015). Quality of health information for consumers on the web: a systematic review of indicators, criteria, tools, and evaluation results. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66(10), 2071-2084. Doi: 10.1002/asi.23311