History of Healthcare Information Management

Health information systems emerged as a
unique field within the healthcare gradually as physicians, nurses, pharmacists
and other providers applied innovative advancements in information science to
problems in healthcare. The health information management industry dates back
to 1920s when medical practitioners noted that documenting patients’
complications care and patient care outcomes benefited both patients and
providers (Nelson, & Staggers, 2014). Paper documentation provided complete
history enabling health practitioners to treat clients better. Health records
soon became critical to ensuring patient safety and provision of quality care.
The American College of Surgeons formed the American Association of Medical
Record Librarians (AAMRL) to help standardize these health records (Nelson,
& Staggers, 2014). The AAMRL wanted to improve the standards of health
records within healthcare facilities. Due to evolving specialty of health
information systems, AAMRL changed to the American Health Information
Management Association to reflect the increasing influence of telecommunications
and information systems professionals in healthcare. 

Technological advancement in the 1960s
led to the development of computer systems. In collaboration with universities,
health facilities began integrating health records into computers (Nelson,
& Staggers, 2014). This enabled health providers to record and to generate
patient information electronically within a facility. This meant that the
recorded patient information would be accessible only within that particular
location. As a result, this restricted the viability and the usefulness of the
software to be used in large-scale. Computers proved to be useful within the
individual healthcare departments.

In the 1980s, there was a huge
breakthrough in healthcare’s EHR (electronic health records) software
development (Nelson, & Staggers, 2014). Computerized registration enabled
patients to profit from efficient check-in process. The advent of a master
patient index was another major breakthrough. These breakthroughs motivated
software developers to carry on with inventing new health information
applications. Departments like Laboratory and Radiology integrated the new
computer applications very well (Nelson, & Staggers, 2014). One problem
these earlier applications had was that they would not be shared by adjacent
departments and could not communicate with others.  While technology thrived in other sectors,
healthcare industry was the only sector that lacked cross-department electronic
information system.

 Sweeping preventable clinical errors and
deaths of patients caused by practitioners renewed the need for an efficient
health information system. The introduction of information system in 2000
promised to offer a viable solution. They would help health providers in
decision making and provide better patient care by reducing clinical error
incidences. However, the real evolution of electronic health records (EHR)
became a reality in 2004 when the US government made it a top priority (Nelson,
& Staggers, 2014).

Consequently, many healthcare organizations
have begun implementing EHR systems.  EHR
evolved from health record keeping. This created new positions of chief
information officer and health information managers. The role of the latter is
to protect patient privacy. They also train employees in respect to the correct
handling of confidential patient information delegated to them.

Currently, health information industry
is driven by the need to improve medical documentation standards. This was the
founding objective of AAMRL. Despite the fact that the industry has been able
to replace paper documentation with computerized documentation, the goal of EHR
is not yet fully achieved (Due to this technological shift, HIM professionals
and other health providers are realizing the need to acquire skills in health
data management, information exchange and privacy. Due to this technological
shift, HIM professionals and other health providers are realizing the need to
acquire skills in health data management, information exchange, and privacy.

Electronic health records and associated
technology, such as health information exchange, patient portals,
computer-assisted coding and voice recognition software are transforming health
information management systems (Nelson, & Staggers, 2014). This has forced
health information experts to enter the race to adopt health information
systems and realize its benefits. The health information exchange allows health
providers to share patient’s medical information across different electronic
medical records. When used consistently and in a meaningful way, EHR is capable
of documenting the health status, complications, and treatment of patients.
This technology is also able to ensure safe and evidence-based care.


R. & Staggers, N. (2014). Health informatics:
an interprofessional approach
. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier Mosby

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