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Health informatics has become associated with the ongoing health reform in the United States. The following paper aims at reviewing the main directions of projects that are made possible with the new discipline and identifying the practices involving health informatics used by Cobb and Douglas Public Health organization.
Health informatics is an umbrella term for a series of practices and approaches that incorporate health information technology into the real-life medical setting. Healthcare informatics is used to accomplish a wide variety of tasks that aim at improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare. The most widely recognized implementation is associated with health data processing, access, and storage.
The creation of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) in 2004 is often cited as a starting point for the widespread integration of health information technology in medical practice (Chin and Sakuda 51). The main purpose of ONCHIT is the adoption of standardized electronic health records (EHRs). Currently, many medical establishments and organizations utilize the practice of submitting records to large data warehouses, known as clinical data repositories.
This practice not only optimizes the access and storage of the data but also allows for more effective research and assessment of the population’s health, especially when it comes to big numbers. The electronic data capture systems not only automatize the clinical trial process but guarantee the high rate of compliance with ethical standards. The clinical research informatics is another branch that enhances the efficiency of the mentioned tasks, but extends its field of operation by improving patient management, helping to maintain the research protocol design, and optimizing sample recruitment, among other things (Richesson and Andrews 6).
Finally, two fields of health informatics marginally connected to public health are bioinformatics and computational health informatics. The former operates mainly with academic biological and genetic data and has an indirect influence on medicine through beneficial findings (Zvelebil and Baum 4). The latter aims at improving and optimizing the current methods of data processing as well as exploring new ones, which makes it responsible for the better health outcomes by improving the underlying processes (Coiera xx).
Cobb and Douglas Public Health in Georgia are also incorporating health informatics into its practice. Since 2009 the Wellstar Health System project has been improving the quality of healthcare in the region. After it partnered with EMC Centera to standardize long-term archiving, Georgia has obtained the content-addressed storage units allowing for effective storage of electronic health records as well as financial information.
Initially, the CAS system was meant for the use of medical personnel and administration, which allowed for an effective decision-making process and reliable predictability mechanisms. By 2009, the data warehouse already contained more than 100 terabytes of radiological and heartland images accessible by Cobb and Douglas staff (“EMC Centera Helps Customers Meet Information Retention Challenges” par. 5).
However, in 2015 Wellstar has launched a new project, MyChart, which is aimed at the patients. The resource grants the population access to medical information from their health providers, such as instructions, step-by-step guides, test results, medication lists, and clinician’s recommendations. The increased transparency of the medical data boosts the effectiveness of the treatment and increases the patient’s involvement in the medicare process, which was previously shown to yield better health outcomes: the patients reported better communication and collaboration with the doctor, increased feeling of control of the situation as well as a higher level of awareness, and generally made fewer mistakes in the process of treatment (“WellStar brings transparency to patient records” par. 4).
In conclusion, Cobb and Douglas Public Health’s participation in the WellStar project center around the access and use of data, both by the medical personnel and the general population. The electronic health record system has already proved a success when used by clinicians and administration of the facility and is expected to yield benefits for the patients in the nearest future.
Chin, Beverly and Christine Sakuda. “Transforming and improving health care through meaningful use of health information technology.” Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health 71.4 (2012): 50-55. Print.
Coiera, Enrico. Guide to Health Informatics, Third Edition, Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2105. Print.
Richesson, Rachel, and James Andrews. Clinical Research Informatics, New York: Springer Science & Business Media, 2012. Print.
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Zvelebil, Marketa and Jeremy Baum. Understanding Bioinformatics, New York: Garland Science, 2008. Print.