You’ve probably heard many people reference health informatics if you work in the healthcare industry. However, health informatics is more than just a current buzzword. It’s a field of work revolutionizing the healthcare industry by allowing care providers to make incredible advancements in data collection, analysis, and patient care. So, it’s time to stop asking, “What is health informatics?” and start looking at how it can further your business.
What Is Health Informatics?
Health informatics integrates healthcare, data collection and analysis, and information technology into a powerhouse player in the healthcare space. Essentially, health informatics is the process of using technology to gather and analyze health information in both the public and private health sectors.
By collecting, compiling, and reviewing health data, care providers can give patients healthcare options appropriate for their needs and ensure better outcomes. If you’ve moved from questioning, “What is health informatics?” to wondering, “How does it impact my business?” you’ll want to keep reading. The future of patient care is progressing rapidly, and the data and services provided by health informatics are a crucial reason.
How Health Informatics Is Improving HealthCare
It Reveals Gaps in Healthcare Access
Providing quality healthcare to all individuals, no matter their gender, ethnicity, location, or economic bracket, is called healthcare equity. Unfortunately, the healthcare industry needs significant work before the system is equitable for all individuals. However, considerable improvements have been implemented thanks to the data provided by health informatics, and the progress is still ongoing.
Health informatics allows researchers to collect health data about specific populations to target their services to meet their needs. In addition, the public health sector has been utilizing various resources, such as telehealthcare and virtual health improvement programs to provide better healthcare to sections of the population that are often overlooked.
It Boosts Patient Participation
When patients have access to their healthcare records and data, they can take a more prominent role in their healthcare. It removes them from the position of an observer by pulling them in to participate.
Patient portals allow patients to access information regarding their condition, monitor their medications, track their symptoms, and even schedule appointments with care providers. While there can be a learning curve for some patients when they first use a portal, well-designed software is user-friendly. Intuitive patient portals empower patients to be informed and involved in their healthcare, which leads to higher compliance with care and better results.
It Allows for Predictive Analysis
Health informatics takes massive amounts of data and analyzes it for trends. Data is collected about diagnoses, health habits, symptoms, and outcomes for physical and mental health issues. This data can be used to help improve public health decisions, as well as provide doctors with the information they need to offer informed private care.
It Reduces Errors
While the traditional paper-and-pen method of recording patient information is still beloved by some practitioners, most are readily switching to electronic records. Electronic patient records make it simple for multiple practitioners to share patient data appropriately to provide quality care.
For example, when patient information is compiled where all care providers can access it, physicians can easily ensure that no medications are prescribed that will interact negatively. They can also update the patient’s notes in real-time so that no care provider is left uninformed regarding the patient’s condition.
It Increases Financial Savings
It is common for time and money to be wasted on repeated testing. This error is expensive for the patient and their insurance company and wastes the physician’s time. Software systems that allow tests and test results to be updated where all care providers can see them prevent the squandering resources on unnecessary tests. Additionally, health informatics saves funds by decreasing the amount of work administration staff has to do.
For example, the lab would have to call the physician’s office and then give the administrative team the results. The administrative team member would then need to update the client’s chart and contact the client with their results. With the right software, the lab can upload the client’s results to their portal, notifying both the physician and patient that their results are completed. The patient’s digital chart is updated automatically, and labor is significantly reduced.
It Allows for Effortless Coordination
When a patient is admitted to the hospital, they may see numerous specialists during their stay. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, care providers don’t always have time to search for the most current update on a patient’s care, and the patient cannot be responsible for transmitting one specialist’s report to the next.
Keeping all parties knowledgeable about the patient’s prognosis and treatment plan requires a program that all specialists can effortlessly log into on their phone or tablet while they are with the patient. By allowing them to access patient notes conveniently, physicians will be better informed of their patient’s status and make the most of their available time.
It Increases Self-Monitoring
Since health informatics consists of collecting and analyzing health data, it’s no surprise that it impacts the design of health-tracking applications. The applications and programs individuals can use to track their health and habits are successful primarily due to the data collected by health informatics.
Numerous applications exist to monitor everything from fertility to water consumption. These programs allow individuals to monitor their health through easily accessible methods and increase overall wellness.
It Tracks Outbreaks
This subset of health informatics has proven invaluable over the past few years. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, public health officials released virus tracking programs that helped individuals determine possible exposure. The applications used their phone’s satellites and GPS systems to determine if the user had been near any known outbreaks. These programs helped track the spread of Covid-19 throughout a given population.
This data was valuable to researchers as it allowed them to learn critical information about the viruses’ communicability. They also allowed individuals to see if they had come in contact with an ill individual, allowing them to quarantine until they could receive a negative test result.
It Improves Patient Outcomes
One of the most critical ways health informatics improves healthcare is by improving patient outcomes. When care providers have access to data that allows them greater insight into their patient’s medical issues, they can provide them with a higher level of care.
Also, electronic health records enable multiple physicians to communicate information about the patient and ensure their treatments are working together correctly. Finally, programs designed to encourage patients to participate in their healthcare promote adherence to the prescribed care plan, making patients more likely to have a successful outcome.
Types of Health Informatics
Health informatics consists of a wide range of specialized categories, and the areas covered are constantly expanding. These are some of the most prevalent subsets falling under the umbrella of health informatics:
Consumer Health Informatics
Consumer health informatics encompasses data that pertains to patient education and healthcare literacy. This area of health informatics focuses on motivating individuals to be advocates for their own healthcare needs. Data is collected to determine the best ways to make health information easier to understand for the average individual, the best ways to manage personal health records, and ways to use the internet to help inspire people to care for their health.
Also referred to as information technology or applicational informatics, clinical informatics describes the technology used to provide clinical services. Electronic health records, secure data-sharing portals for healthcare practitioners, and hospital bed management systems are examples of this branch of health informatics.
Clinical Research Informatics
Clinical research informatics uses the health data collected to aid in discovering and treating unknown illnesses. The data collected from experimental therapies, clinical trials, and testing of new procedures all fall into this category.
Public Health Informatics
Public health informatics uses informatics to improve public health and wellness. The scope of issues that contribute to public health informatics is varied, including environment, emotional, housing, work, and physical factors that contribute to an individual’s level of health. The informatics gathered in these areas are used to prevent public health issues, prepare for potential health concerns or disease outbreaks, and promote public health resources.
This area of informatics is designed to improve the efficiency of medication distribution. For example, pharmacy informatics professionals are replacing handwritten prescriptions with digital ones, preventing errors due to unclear handwriting. Programs have also been designed to alert the pharmacist of any potential medication interactions.
Anticipated Areas of Growth
When it comes to technological advancements in healthcare IT and health informatics, you can expect to see more innovative solutions to common problems. Over the next few years, professionals in the health informatics industry are predicted to improve the following:
- Increased cybersecurity for health portals
- Growth of telehealthcare programs
- Addition of artificial intelligence to predictive analytics
- Advancements in inoperability for health record systems
- Remote patient monitoring and wearable technology
You don’t have to trust a search engine with questions like, “What is health informatics?” or “How can health care informatics benefit my business?”. At Riveraxe, we have the answers to your questions and the solutions you need to elevate your performance. Contact Riveraxe today and let us provide you with the data technology you need to stand out from the crowd.