Back in 2009, the U.S. federal government made a significant investment in health IT (aka health information technology as part of the so-called Stimulus Act. The government designated up to as much as $30 billion in incentive payments to healthcare providers to adopt as well as “meaningfully use” innovative electronic health record systems (aka EHR systems) (Kaushal & Blumenthal, 2014, p.319). When the EHR Incentive Program was included in that legislation, also known as ARRA or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the new era of health information technology began. Not only did health information technology funding stimulate the economic activities but it also modernized the healthcare system, provided the foundation for new healthcare payment and delivery models, and fostered a learning environment in healthcare. Today, health information technology is one of the crucial specializations in nursing.
This paper reflects on what has been learned in this Health Informatics Technology class both from class discussions and research. It identifies three ideas that the author has found the most meaningful when doing research and provides an in-depth explanation of these ideas. It also reflects on how the knowledge of change implementation principles may guide the author in adopting these principles in the career in healthcare.
To begin with, this class has helped the author build up in-depth knowledge of health information technology essentials, policy foundations, specifics of implementation and use, advantages and possible challenges. It has helped the author grow as an agent of change within healthcare and as a passionate advocate for the use of information technology at different levels of the healthcare provision process. For instance, participation in class discussions has helped the author of this paper see the value of health information technology as an enabler of change in healthcare. The author has clearly seen the nature of the progress and the emergence of the new model of healthcare delivery.
When the implementation of electronic medical record started, most organizations were really behind in their progress. They were faced with a great deal of work to be completed within a very short period. When they moved past the implementation stage, they had to sustain their health information technology based performance for a year. That became a challenge for many organizations. Yet, now, when healthcare organizations have implemented these stages, they start to see the benefits of using health information technology on a large scale. Essentially, the end game is to come to the point when healthcare providers significantly improve care and considerably reduce cost. Interestingly, the consumers have been largely positive about new changes and effective implementation of health information technology into healthcare practices. They, for example, have actively supported the introduction of mobile solutions.
Now, the course has equipped the author with the knowledge of important ideas related to the use and implementation of health information technology. When doing research, the concept of Electronic Health Records stood out as one of the key ideas of IT technology. EHR (sometimes called electronic health records or electronic medical records), in particular, refers to electronic systems storing the personal data of patients. The concept of EHR is related to doctor’s keeping track of patient health information in an easy and accessible way and enabling healthcare providers to access patient information when a person has a problem and their offices are closed (HealthIT.gov, 2017). By using EHR, the author learnt, physicians can share patient information with their colleagues so that everyone in need of the patient’s personal information is able to get it. Moreover, EHR in some certified HER systems also allow people to log in to special web portals to have a look at their own health records, results of laboratory tests, plans of treatment, and even send an e-mail to their doctor. The course has taught me that EHR is not the only concept making up what is known as Health Information Technology, with two others being PHRs (aka personal health records), which allow the customers control what sort of data goes, have the functions of EHR, and also reflect the customer’s health priorities, and e-prescribing, which allows doctors communicate with pharmacies in a direct manner (HealthIT.gov, 2017). In this way, the three concepts that have impacted the author’s knowledge development at this course have been EHRs, PHRs, and e-prescribing.
The most surprising thing that has come out of the research for the author was that security and privacy of EHR implementation remain the pressing issue even though the advancement in EHR systems development has been great. Having analyzed scholarly sources on the issue, the author came to the conclusion that security is not inherent in EHR and PHR systems but needs to rely on a combination of technical features such as “mandated access control policies and consent mechanisms” (Rezaeibagha et al., 2015, p.23). More specifically, the essential features are accuracy and quality features, secure integration and sharing tools, adequate cryptography techniques, the use of business continuity techniques, provision of adequate operations security, the use of the features of applicability and scalability, flexibility, consent and choice mechanisms, using adequate policies and regulations, secure communication, interoperability, system and application access control (Rezaeibagha et al., 2015).
Awareness of change implementation principles may help the author move forward in the career in several ways. Knowledge of correction principle will ensure that the author follows the HIPAA privacy rule and provides patients with adequate timely tools to dispute the integrity or accuracy of their health data (HHS.gov, 2017). Knowledge of the openness and transparency principle will help the author be transparent about all procedures and policies that relate to patient EHR. Knowledge of individual choice principles will help the author respect the patients’ right to make informed consent regarding the use of their health data. Knowledge of the collection, use, and disclosure limitation principle will help the author be careful to disclose patient data to a certain, justifiable extent. Knowledge of safeguards and accountability principles will foster the data protection initiatives and will ensure the process is adequately monitored (HHS.gov, 2017). In this way, the course has prepared the author to be the agent of change with regard to the implementation of health IT in healthcare.