Manual procedures and management in healthcare is not only slow but is also prone to inaccuracies that may affect a patient’s treatment. A health information technology (HIT) system based around electronic medical records (EMR) can elevate the quality of patient experience to a whole new level. One of the most essential requirements of a good healthcare is that the health information is accurate, updated, can easily be accessed and is available at point-of-care (POC) facilitating informed decisions and it can be communicated while keeping privacy of patient intact. Handwritten notes and manual entries cannot ensure healthcare quality. By digitizing healthcare especially the records of patients, and automating the back office management operations, a foundation for efficient patient care as well as economic savings in future can be laid down. Innovations like multimedia collaboration tools, VoIP and wireless services would grant the medical staff access to patient records and use communication tools from anywhere. By installing an intelligent wireless broadband network of technologies like WiMAX, WiFi, HSDPA, etc real time video communications can also be supported (Turisco and Case, 2001). Once information is digitized, then through a collaborated environment of mobile health computing devices (MHCDs) and wireless internet technology, the information can be recorded into EHR, accessed or transmitted from anywhere within the health care institution or beyond owing to wireless services (Waegemann amp. Tessier, 2002). Moses Cone Hospital near Greensboro and WakeMed in Raleigh has installed wireless connectivity and are satisfied with the effective improvement in quality of patient care it has brought with it (‘Nine Tech Trends’, 2005). National interconnectivity allows for maintaining community health services in association with various health centers, providing facilities beyond premises of the hospital. Winona Health Online is one such endeavor (‘Nine Tech Trends’, 2005). Internet connectivity would allow for the digital files comprising of patients’ x-ray, ultra-sound, CT or MRI scans to be shared instantaneously regardless of location, and facilitate real time remote diagnosis or consultations. Through it the paramedics can forward on sight accident pictures to the health facility for making advanced preparations for the injured patient. Various healthcare applications like PalmCIS (Chen et al., 2004) are available for handheld devices. MHCDs would allow practitioners to download the updated information related to a patient’s treatment or regarding drugs instantaneously from the main healthcare information servers, be prompted of some specific incoming lab results, or accidents, be in touch with colleagues for consultation or communicate with the nurses’ station or even diagnose a patient from home through e-encounter or prescribe from anywhere through e-prescriptions. E-encounters would allow the clinician to help the patients without actually coming into the hospital (McDonald et al., 2001). E-prescriptions would remove all chances of handing a patient the wrong medicine as the prescription is type-written, and the chemist would know that it came from an authentic source since it can be only be generated by the physician alone (Kilbridge, 2001). A computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system for physicians, integrated with EMR would facilitate them with patient diagnosis and prescriptions. CPOE system would allow instantaneous completion of orders, decrease writing or transcription errors, avoid duplicate or erroneous records and have embedded rule and evidence based decision support systems that assist in prescribing medications while considering the complete medical history of a patient. CPOE systems have been used by the physicians at University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago for over 20 years now (‘Nine Tech Trends’, 2005). For the vulnerable population suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension and who need a constant space where the body condition is constantly to be monitored, an e-disease management system can be set up (LeGrow and Metzger, 2001). Patient’s data like heart rates, glucose level etc. can be acquired through biochemical sensors which automatically acquire and transmit the readings through some wireless technology e.g. mobiles, to some EMR database or monitoring system. In case of an emergency condition, the monitoring system would generate alarms informing the associated health facility to cater with the situation instantaneously. These sensors may be embedded inside a person like RFID chips, or simply worn externally e.g. smart bandages (‘Emerging Technologies’, 2004). Security and management can be installed into the HIT system through biometric sensors which offer the highest authentication level. Operations related to EMR would be accessible only to individuals with privileges. The hassle of typing passwords every time would be removed. Family Health Centers of San Diego have been using fingerprint based biometric management system for years now while an iris based biometric system is installed in University of South Alabama Hospitals (‘Nine Tech Trends’, 2005). Alongside managerial operations, the biometric information could also be used to extract any existing EMR of a patient from the database with ease to, providing all medical history facilitating informed decisions. By installing the above mentioned healthcare information technologies, the quality of heathcare can be increased substantially. References Chen, E. S., Mendonca, E. A., McKnight, L. K., Stetson, P. D., Lei, J. amp. Cimino, J. J. (2004). Palm CIS: A Wireless Handheld Application for Satisfying Clinician Information Needs. Journal of American Medical Informatics Association, 11, 19-28. Emerging Technologies (2004). Healthcare Informatics Online. Retrieved on May 4, 2011 from http://web.archive.org/web/20060427024631/http://www.healthcare-informatics.com/issues/2004/01_04/cover.htm Kilbridge, P. (2001). E-Prescribing. California healthcare foundation. LeGrow, G. and Metzger, J. (2001). E-disease Management. California healthcare foundation. McDonald, K., Case, J. and Metzger, J. (2001). E-Encounters. California healthcare foundation. Nine Tech Trends (2005). Healthcare Informatics Online. Retrieved May 4, 2011 from http://www.providersedge.com/ehdocs/ehr_articles/nine_tech_trends.pdf Waegemann, C. P. and Tessier, C. (2002). Documentation Goes Wireless: A Look at Mobile Healthcare Computing Devices. Journal of AHIMA, 73 (8), 36-39. Turisco, F. and Case J. (2001). Wireless and Mobile Computing, California healthcare foundation.
Trends in Health Information system