Hospital Information System The two sides of a coin by Dr. Paridhi Mathur



Finding an alternative with the most cost effective or highest achievable performance under the given constraints, by maximizing desired factors and minimizing undesired ones. In comparison, maximization means trying to attain the highest or maximum result or outcome without regard to cost or expense. 

The purpose of optimization is to achieve the “best” design relative to a set of prioritized criteria or constraints. These include maximizing factors such as productivity, strength, reliability, longevity, efficiency, and utilization. 

A main cause is the deep disparities in access to care and health outcomes. Optimization methods can be used to improve the distribution and supply of health care providers to maximize service coverage, minimize travel needs of patients, limit the number of facilities, and maximize health or access equality. 

Advantages:


1. Easy Access to Patient Data 
A well-implemented Hospital Information System (HIS) means readily available patient data to the care providers. It is only a matter of few clicks and all the requisite information about a patient, from various departments in the hospital, can be available on the screen. If the treating doctor needs to re-check the test reports of a patient, she need not go looking for the IPD file; logging into the HIS will give her instant access to those reports and timely treatment decisions ensue. 

2. Cost Effective 
HIS, when implemented well, cuts out on a lot of manual work that are essentially performed in hospitals, especially the ones where documentation and record keeping is required. It helps in cutting down manpower because a lot of work gets automated and does not require manual intervention to store or analyze the information. It also saves much on storage and the related costs. 

3. Improved Efficiency 
Processes automated using software would mean that the processes will be taken care of mechanically without any human intervention and this will instantly ensure improved efficiency. The software will not face human problems like fatigue, miscommunication or lack of focus; it will perform every task assigned to it with the same accuracy day in and day out. 

4. Reduces Scope of Error 
Because processes on HIS are automated and a lot of tasks are assigned to the software to perform with utmost accuracy with minimum human intervention, the scope of error is reduced dramatically. For instance, while billing an IPD patient for the drugs used with HIS, the bill can hardly go wrong because the drug the nurse indents is what is billed for until and unless there is a shortage in stock or change in drug order after the indent has been sent. Per unit rate of the drug is saved in the software as part of standard operating procedure of automation. Just selecting the drug name and the quantity will enable the software to calculate the amount due, accurately. 

5. Increased Data Security & Retrieve-ability 
Record keeping in hospitals is a mandatory bane with two challenges: keeping the data safe with only authorized personnel getting access to it and retrieving it in the minimum possible time. Add to these the perennial problems of space shortage, protection from natural elements and protection from pest damage etc. 

HIS is the perfect solution for these problems. All the data is stored on the server or cloud, keeping it safe. Since HIS works on logins, data security is becomes a non-issue offering data access based on the role of the person – Receptionist, doctor, nurse, radiologist etc. Retrieve- ability of data stored on a server or cloud is only a matter of few clicks and the data will appear on the screen within seconds. 

6. Improved Patient Care 
Improved access to patient data and improved work efficiency means better and faster clinical decisions. In this age of evidence based medicine, the faster the clinician gets the diagnostic reports and the quicker her orders are implemented the faster is the patient recovery and the better it is on the patient care index. With automation, all departments in the hospitals are inter- connected and the faster information access further improves the quality of patient care and the resultant bed turnover in the hospital. 

HIS is more than an IT solution, it helps you offer clear information, rapidly for better patient care while ensuring that the hospital operates efficiently and improved profitability by plugging revenue leakage. Additionally, an excellent complementary solution to an HIS is a hospital insurance claims management solution to streamline the way your hospital manages patient insurance claims and settlements. 

Disadvantages:

1. Expensive 
An increasingly sophisticated health technology definitely does not come cheap. We have to understand that all first world national healthcare systems face a range of challenges; one of which is the ageing population. People are living longer. So what does this imply? This means an increased health needs but the working population generating income to pay for healthcare system is reduced. So one consideration would be, is the high cost which comes with high technology economically viable for the government? 

2. Requires fast time to Adapt 
As we know, technology is constantly evolving. Many a time there will be new softwares, new upgrades, new way of doing things. In order to keep up with the competitive edge, hospital staff has to keep up with such changes. This can be a struggle for some, especially for the older staff. 

3. Over-Dependency on Technology 
While once the staff has adapted to the new way of work, there comes the next problem. It is not uncommon for a computer system to face technical errors. The health care informatics system is no exception. This problem is especially crucial in the Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department. Various departments in the hospital are interconnected by a common information system. When one department is down, others are affected. For example, a patient was rushed into the A&E Department. When there is an error while retrieving blood analysis information, the rest of the procedures following it will be delayed. This will cause huge inconveniences, or worse; it may even have adverse effects in the patient’s health condition. 

4. Susceptibility of Network Hackers 
Patients’ medical history and other health information should be kept confidential for ethical and legal reasons. While the health care system network is definitely equipped with security measures, it is not impossible for network hacking to occur. Hence, this is certainly a vulnerability of Health Informatics. 



Author
Dr. Paridhi Mathur
TISS, Mumbai
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