Technology has become deeply entrenched in healthcare affecting every decision that clinicians make. Health information has become embedded in health care and now plays a pivotal role in managing patient data and generally improves patient outcomes. During this semester, I have learned that health information is an integral part of the health system holding the knowledge on all the patient’s needs. Concepts such as the DIKW model seemed opaque at first, but I began to understand the importance of having knowledge and wisdom when handling health information. As I perused through lecture notes and other study materials, I asked myself questions on how health information is used in the clinical setup and the challenges involved. In this reflection essay, I will focus on my thoughts on health information, any new insights that I may have, and propose a way of moving forward with the current knowledge.
My thoughts on health information and its management have evolved since knowledge management requires a philosophical approach. From this understanding, I learned that knowledge management needs to be a shared value by everyone within an organization. Since data is valuable and can be hacked, I was curious about how hospitals keep patient information secure and the risks and challenges involved. One of the potential risks in health information management is the leaking of sensitive patient data. To prevent this, I discovered that hospitals implement stringent policies to safeguard patient data privacy, security, and confidentiality. Furthermore, I understood the various policies and legislation in place that govern the way hospitals handle patient data. For example, I learned about the Canadian Standards Association principles for privacy designed to curb data leaks that jeopardize patient information. Even though there are jurisdictional variations across the different regions of our country, the principles of knowledge management are ubiquitous.
During the different lectures, I delved into understanding health data standards in using and managing electronic patient records. With the advent of health records in health care, the need to develop standards to communicate between electronic health systems and organizations on patients also emerged. I appreciated learning about data collection databases in the country, such as DAD, MIS, and NACRS. Prior to learning the intricacies of health information, I had little or no knowledge of how patient data is managed. My thoughts have greatly shifted and developed over the semester since I now have a firm grip on the databases, legislation, and policies used to safeguard patient data.
Aside from health information, I have also understood some electronic systems and databases such as DAD used in decision-making within the health care system. The Canadian Institute for Health Information used to be an elusive entity for me, but my knowledge has developed over the semester to know that it is responsible for managing crucial databases employed to make important health care decisions. I also learned about health information systems, if properly designed, can assist healthcare workers efficiently and effectively handle patient information. Perhaps my biggest takeaway this semester is how deep the role of technology is in the healthcare system. I also discovered that while data systems appear to be immune from errors, there is a chance of data errors stemming from staff or a technological mishap. When such errors occur, especially in the hospital set up, fixing it may be an uphill task. However, if implemented at the right juncture, some corrections can prevent errors and leaks. Since health information systems carry a lot of sensitive data, I learned that they need to be safeguarded by firewalls and antivirus software.
Understanding health information and its use in healthcare has changed my thoughts on how technology is used in healthcare. I used to think that technology in healthcare was only limited to diagnostic machines and treatment equipment. During the semester, I discovered that technology has been so entrenched in healthcare that it practically dictates patient outcomes. Perhaps the most obvious way the technology has been used in healthcare is in electronic health records. On top of changed perceptions, I have also had some new insights on health information in healthcare. I now believe that health information can be used for more than just compiling patient data. Health information can be used to segregate patients according to needs or interventions and form patient-centred groups that are bound to improve patient outcomes. Furthermore, I believe that health information can be used as a means for physicians to focus on patient-centred care as well as engaging the most suitable evidence-based practices available. Perhaps the most interesting insight that I have on health information is how such knowledge can be used together with artificial intelligence to develop new models of intervention. Artificial intelligence in healthcare requires enough health care information to diagnose ailments and point out possible future complications. Another new insight that I have heard lately is on hospitals finding a way to merge their databases to share patient records seamlessly among physicians.
Going forward, I believe that we should look at the different possibilities for health information. We should also focus on the loopholes that exist in the policies and legislation on health information. For example, since health information is stored electronically, we should ask ourselves who is liable when an outside source’s privacy or security is violated. When hackers tamper with electronic patient data, who is culpable? When a member of the staff leaks patient data, is the individual or the whole organization liable? Moving forward, we should ask ourselves questions on whether all the possibilities of health information have been exhausted. We need to channel more resources into research to discover the different ways technology can be better incorporated into the health system. It is also prudent to investigate exactly how electronic patient records impact patient outcomes. My experience this semester has taught me that there is much we still have not uncovered about health information. While it is true that we as a society have made a giant stride in aggregating and compiling patient data, there is still much we can do with regards to streamlining databases and using the data for more than just record-keeping purposes. In conclusion, I believe that this semester has been a success because I have mastered health information concepts that have inspired me to take a closer look at the subject and see what I can do differently in the future.