Explaining Health Information System (HIS)

When speaking of healthcare systems one envisages an information intensive industry within which reliable and timely information is essentially used in order to plan and monitor service provision. Health Information Systems represents a useful resource to make the process of delivering healthcare more effective and efficient.

Therefore, the article intends to provide a clearer image on the contents of a HIS.

As a part of the patient care process, a HIS collects data relevant to the parties involved. The data centralized by means of a health information system are used within many other systems for achieving numerous various purposes. Confidentiality and security safeguards have to be available principles when handling this information. Patient data and data from other facilities have to be combined and integrated into a whole, the result being used by several professional groups. Health information systems work on the basis of certain applications that process all this information so that many different organizations and professional groups can have access to it.

Here are the major concepts related to the system of health information. The first one is represented by health/medical informatics and telematics. The respective defines the field that deals with:

* the cognitive, information processing;
* communication tasks of medical practice, education;
* research including the information science and technology to sustain the respective tasks.

Medical informatics concerns itself with resources, devices and methods necessary for the optimization of acquisition, storage and retrieval. The tools used within this field are represented by computers, formal medical terminologies, clinical guidelines and systems of information and communication. Clinical and biomedical applications constitute the areas of the highest interest, the specialists seeking to integrate them among themselves or to more administrative-type health information system.

A second important aspect to be treated when discussing about a HIS is health information technology (HIT). It refers to the application of the information processing by means of both computer hardware and software in order to store, retrieve, share and make use of health care information, data and knowledge for communication and decision making.

Electronic medical record (EMR), electronic health record (EHR) and electronic patient record (EPR) are other three notions with tremendous importance relative to a health information system. The first one is a digital- format medical record used as a standard. The electronic health record denominates the medical record in digital format of an individual patient. The totality of electronic health records are coordinated, stored and retrieved within the EHR system with the help of computers.

The degree of personalization goes further with the electronic patient record that electronically stores health information about one individual uniquely identified by an identifier. ERP technology involves capturing, retrieving, transmitting and handling data specific to a patient, related to healthcare, which include clinical, administrative and biographical information.

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Health Information Technology – A Bright Future

The health care industry is getting more technologically advanced every year. And with those advances, comes a need for people who not only understand how to use the technology, but can help make innovations that will continue to advance the system.

One of the degrees that can put you at the heart of all the action is a health information technology degree. This type of degree program will teach you how to use technology to collect, analyze, monitor, maintain and report health data. If you’re interested in the medical field, a health information technology program offers a truly fascinating point from which to explore your passions and start your career.

In the classroom and in the field, when you’re enrolled in a health information technology program, you’ll learn to process requests for the release of personal health information, code clinical information, process and use health data for clinical quality management, bill patients for services (and provide reimbursement) and learn compliance while protecting patient privacy. And frankly, the jobs you’ll receive after you receive your health information technology degree will put you in a position of great responsibility and control.

Post-Health Information Technology Program Jobs

With the degree in hand, some of the positions you can expect to work in include:

o Health Information Technician. Job responsibilities often include reviewing medical charts to check for completion and accuracy, generating reports and assigning diagnosis codes to medical charts for insurance claims and data collection purposes, plus gathering, analyzing and managing information about patients so healthcare providers can properly care for them.

o Medical Coder. With a health information technology degree you can enter the field as a medical coder, which, because of its medical and business nature, is often a springboard for advancement opportunities within the healthcare sector. Some of the responsibilities of a medical coder include reviewing medical documents provided by physicians, then translating the information into numeric codes and sequencing diagnostic and procedural codes by using a standard healthcare coding system. This work is crucial to the financial reimbursement of healthcare professionals by the insurance companies that provide policies for the patients.

o Health Information Administrator. After completing a health information technology program you may work as a healthcare administrator. In this position you will oversee (or as an entry-level job assist the person who oversees) the business of providing services to patients and manage the health information systems that house the medical facility’s patient-related documents, insurance information, and business documentation.

o Medical Secretary. Medical secretaries help maintain order in the office and provide the support necessary for proper patient care. Some of the job responsibilities may include transcribing dictation, generating correspondence, assisting physicians with reports, speeches, articles, and conference proceedings, as well as providing technological support and maintaining medical records.

The Job Outlook

According to a 2006-2007 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, employment for medical records and health information technicians is expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations from now through 2014.

A few highlights of the BLS report include:

o Job prospects should be very good; technicians with a strong background in medical coding will be in particularly high demand.

o Those entering the field will usually have an associate degree; courses include anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, statistics, and computer science.

o Most employers prefer to hire Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT), who must pass a written examination offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To take the examination, a person must graduate from a 2-year health information technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Technicians who receive a Health Information Technology degree from a non-CAHIIM-accredited program or who are trained on the job are not eligible to take the examination.

o Median annual earnings of medical records and health information technicians were $25,590 in 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $20,650 and $32,990. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,720, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $41,760.
With a job outlook so bright – and an education that’s both challenging and exciting – choosing a health information technology degree program is an intelligent step to a rewarding career.

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