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There is no doubt that it is very important to manage health information especially in realization that patient information is usually scattered in different locations in the health care system. There is need to centralize health information in order to ease dissemination of health care records thus improving quality of care. On the same note, information management in healthcare systems is a potential means of cutting down health care costs.
In spite of its importance, management of health information is challenged complexities of implementing electronic information systems, as well information flow all of which are costly to health care providers.
Electronic information systems and health care quality Incomplete patient information has been associated with medical errors that have resulted into avoidable deaths. Valerius (2007) for instance reports that up to 98,000 patients in the U. S. ere said to have died as per the Institute of Medicine 2000 report due to avoidable medical errors with most of them being due to lacking patient information.
The poor management of patient records is partly attributable to failure to adopt advanced information systems. Health care systems are reluctant in adopting electronic health records (ERH) yet ERH have the potential to eradicate most of the problems related to missing patient information. It should be noted that while an ERH system is encouraged, it is possible to use an electronic system together with a manual system.
Due to the complexity associated with shifting from a manual system to an electronic system, medical practitioners tend to reluctant to implement electronic systems (Harrison & McDowell, 2008).
As such, the main focus of such practitioners is to provide medical care to the patient and unfortunately neglect record keeping yet patient information is very vital in health care. Information flow Information management in health care systems is a challenging aspect in terms of sharing information.
Lack of a central repository on patient information predisposes the patient to medical risks. Stevens (2005) observes that when health information is not centralized, it leads to delayed medical procedures as time is taken to look for the doctor who may be having the information. This is expensive financially and it is a time wasting experience that predisposes the patient to inappropriate medical procedures or death in some case. Even in cases where there is an information repository, information sharing may be a source of problem.
In most health care systems, the patient is mandated to collect information on performed medical procedures and then present the same to a general practitioner or a clinician. This process of information flow is not efficient and reliable since the patient can easily damage or misplace the medical report. Stevens (2005) mentions that the likelihood of the medical information not landing into the hands of the intended clinician is high. This is an issue that can be effectively addressed by centralizing patient information. Confidentiality of patient information
Maintaining patient information confidentially is one of the principles guiding health care practitioners and breaking such has legal implications (Dolan & Barrister, 2004). As such, healthcare information management is supposed to adhere to this principle. This is however a difficult task with a centralized system which may to a greater extent allows accessibility of information by unauthorized persons. However, this is can be countered by proper authentication of the users of the healthcare system. In addition, the ensuring that the released information flows to the right persons is a potent way of curbing breach of confidentiality.
In conclusion, it is appreciable that healthcare systems experience challenges in maintaining efficient information management systems. Reluctance to adopt electronic health record systems and little emphasis on need to preserve patient information is the main cause. Healthcare systems must realize that efficient information systems will reduce medical errors and costs related to such errors as well as enhance information flow. The possible problem of breached confidentiality should be addressed by allowing authorized access to centralized health information.
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