Health information management provides a balance between the number-crunching side of healthcare and the growing demand to provide optimum care for every patient.
With industry reform stemming from the Affordable Care Act, advances in electronic record keeping and increased concern for data security, health information management has become vital to both the functionality of a healthcare system and patient care.
Here’s a look at 10 ways that health information management impacts the quality of patient care:
- Helping patients access their records- It’s estimated that 50 percent of providers are still using paper charts in some fashion. As providers switch to electronic files, health informaticists suggest - and often implement - new programs that not only improve record keeping, but also gives patients access to their records online for the first time in American history.
- Ensuring safety of private patient data -Think about how much personal information healthcare providers collect. From addresses to prescriptions, the amount of sensitive information that’s exchanged is daunting. The health informatics department is the custodian of this information, guarding it from unauthorized personnel and security breaches.
- Complying with HIPAA- Health informaticists ensure compliance with HIPPA regulations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, provides specific data-safety measures including data encryption, disclosure policies and breach notification plans. Health informaticists guarantees providers are following these complex rules and keeping patient information under lock and key.
- Data mining to improve patient safety- Health informaticists analyze data to look for ways to improve patient safety. For example, an informaticist could analyze trends in healthcare-associated infections or falls so health care professionals can create solutions to those problems.
- Analyzing health records for accuracy- It’s the job of the health information management team to examine electronic records for errors or incomplete information. For the highest level of care, records must contain up-to-date patient information.
- Creating a standard language- Health informaticists translate clinical data into usable information for everyone from home health aides to insurance providers. Patient safety is improved through a universal nomenclature that maintains accuracy and provides necessary, user-friendly information to those who need it.
- Improving care through better coordination- With knowledge and proficiencies in electronic record keeping, health informaticists help providers coordinate patient care. Electronic records provide a big-picture look at a patient, with real-time information that can be accessed by every doctor, nurse or physical therapist who interacts with a patient.
- Communicating with healthcare staff- Healthcare informaticists are the gatekeepers of information, which is why they work closely with a wide range of health care professionals and support staff. They bridge the gap between administrators and those working one-on-one with patients to provide care. Closing this gap ensures that no patient information is lost, misplaced or mishandled.
- Providing financial information- Healthcare informaticists integrate clinical care data with financial data. Using these statistics, executives can make decisions that improve patient service and quality of care.
- Improving healthcare literacy- A growing number of health care informaticists are designing strategies to help patients navigate common problems, including complicated discharge instructions and code-heavy insurance bills. By improving healthcare literacy, informaticists remove barriers to quality care.