Systems Integration of Databases in Healthcare
Current state of systems and standards in health care industry
Databases form an important part of any industry. Just like in most organizations, the health care industry has decided to adopt intensive use of database systems in their daily routine. The systems aim at integrating databases found in the health industry for various reasons. A research done by MEdPAC (2004) shows that the use of information technology in health care practices has increased over time. The industry uses information technology by creating important databases that they feed into various systems within the organization. Such system should make it easy for healthcare practitioners to keep appropriate data, keep records of accomplishment of patients, increase availability and accessibility of information and improve quality of procedures within the systems (MEdPAC, 2004).
Currently there are different databases used in the healthcare industry systems. They include electronic health records (EHRs) which is an electronic file cabinet for patient information from different sources. They are used in systems such as automatic order records and tracking systems for clients. EHR information comes in form of integrated text, voice recording, images, and written medical notes. Clinicians use this information in providing real time availability of patient data and a continuous presence of records for patient care (MEdPAC, 2004). Computerized provider order entry is an information system that organizes and fulfills medication needs in health care. It includes records such as laboratory orders, radiology studies, vast medical procedures, discharges, transfers, and referral records. Other databases found in different systems within the health care industry include bar cording, clinical decision support systems, picture archiving and communication systems, interoperability, automatic dispensation machines and electronic materials management (MEdPAC, 2004).
Research has shown that the extent of using information database in the industry vary depending on the setting (MEdPAC, 2004). It shows that settings such as pharmacies and hospitals are advanced users of information technology while places such as physicians’ offices and nursing homes seem to lag behind in this practice. People also make extensive use of information technology at home, for monitoring various health issues such as blood sugar levels, heart rates, and insulin levels among others. This study has noted that the level of system integration of database in health care is more available in hospital and pharmacies (MEdPAC, 2004). These facilities use information to keep track of patient records, medication inventories, pharmaceutical supplies, and other imaging services that enable them to provide better care to clients.
The importance of standards in health care
The study has also shown that the medical industry encouraged the use of information technology in various healthcare systems in order to help improve their standards. Information technology in healthcares systems has led to improved ways of dispensing medication, keeping proper records about clients for future use, and proper diagnosis of various medical conditions (MEdPAC, 2004). Standards in the industry have also improved based on quality of procedures and effectiveness of clinicians. A report has indicated the rate of improvement on how doctors, pharmacists, and other clinicians are able to help their clients monitor their health status effectively while at home. They can also do the same with inpatients by accessing the necessary information from the stored record within the facilities. There is evidence of improved standards from health providers to patients and their family thereby increasing life spans of people in the society (MEdPAC, 2004).
Importance of system integration in healthcare
System integration brings about quality improvements in healthcare. Doctors, nurses, physicians, pediatricians, nutritionists and other health professionals have access to better information that help them improve quality and standards of their daily procedures(MEdPAC, 2004). System integration also enables medical professionals to avoid or reduce erroneous mal practices in the industry. For example, they are able to eradicate problems such as equipment that is left in patients during surgical procedures, misdiagnosis and negligence on the doctors’ parts.
The practice of system integration in healthcare ensures patient safety in various facilities. Information stored in various structures of the organization allows health providers to make certain that each patient receive the right medication, dosage and treatment. Many cases have been reported of instances when patients received dosages that caused allergic reaction leading to severe conditions or death (MEdPAC, 2004). Use of system integration enables different health providers to have complete information about patients so that they can administer the right medical procedures and diagnosis. Incorporating systems of databases in health care make more information available to physicians, nurses and doctors. As such, they are able to receive quality information on different medical procedures and patients’ medical histories.
Reasons why healthcare lacks standards
Standards refer to the level of quality of procedures found within the health industry. Every person expects such levels to be very high in the health care industry. However, reports have been made of lack of proper standards in this sector. Healthcare lack standards because the health information required for making important medical decisions such as treatment methods keep changing more often than expected (MEdPAC, 2004). Secondly, the guiding principles, strategies and clinical evidence and knowledge about the condition of the patients constantly change.
Such factors in changes make it difficult for medical practitioners to keep up with the pace. Evolutions and development in information technology may cause poor standards in healthcare. This is especially true in cases where the doctors, nurses and other caregivers are not able to get access to quality and reliable information in their areas of practice. Lack of proper standards may occur if the technology in use does not make it possible for doctors to carry out thorough research about medical conditions (MEdPAC, 2004). Healthcare may also lack standards because some institutions have not adopted the use of various systems such as clinical decision supports system, electronic health records, bar cording, automatic dispensation machines and electronic materials management.
Factors to consider when merging different databases from different clinics
Different clinics should consider the types of integration methods to adopt during their merger process. They can consider horizontal or vertical integration methods. It is important for clinics to note that horizontal integration methods will lead to increases in price. Increased prices may cause mixed quality in health care services (Summer, 2014). Merging clinics must consider quality of services that will come out because of the merger. Research has indicated that some hospital and clinical mergers may lead to low quality while other may lead to high quality of medical services.
Integrating different information system used by the two clinics into one functional system is another factor to consider. Different clinics use different information systems for varied purposes. Therefore, the merging clinics must come up with a proper procedure for integrating their information systems in order to maintain effectiveness in performances. Competition and quality of physician is a factor to consider (Summer, 2014). Some hospital mergers have the potential of increasing or reducing the functioning and quality levels of physicians. Some of these physicians may also compete as they aim to show their levels of competencies. Such competition may lead to low quality of physicians’ performance. The clinics also consider abilities to make individual physicians specialized in their activities. They must also ensure that each practitioner from each hospital is successfully absorbed into the merger system without any one of them losing their jobs (Summer, 2014). Division of labour is another important point to ponder when merging two clinics.
Challenges in merging databases
Most medical institution operate in different settings such as hospitals, pharmacies, rehabilitations centers, while others deal with specialized cases. Merging these institution may be challenging based on the type of information they use (Summer, 2014). Integrating databases may prove hectic especially in circumstances where one of the clinics has not implemented the use of different healthcare systems. Lack of using proper policies that support both functionality and competitiveness of the two organizations can also be a challenge to integrating databases from different clinics.
How to ensure seamless integration
First, policy makers should come up with strategies that promote integration and proper functioning healthcare markets. They should also be able to maintain competitive advantage of the newly merged hospitals in order to remain effective in service delivery (Summer, 2014). Policy makers must also come up with appropriate methods of division of labour to avoid competition between physicians. Effective information technology and healthcare systems must be put in place to help in the success of the merger.
Integration of databases in healthcare systems is an important factor that organizations need to apply. Clinicians should embrace the use of information systems within various departments of healthcare in order to improve quality in their services. Such institutions must ensure high standards in integration of systems and databases. There are many factors to consider when two clinics decide to merge. The merger also comes with challenges when integrating different databases and information systems.
MEdPAC. (2004). Information technology in healthcare. Retrieved from http://www.medpac.gov/publications%5Ccongressional_reports%5CJune04_ch7.pdf
Summer, L. (2014). Research insights: integration, concentration, and competition in the provider market place. Georgetown University Health policies. Retrieved from https://www.academyhealth.org/files/publications/AH_R_Integration%20FINAL2.pdf