Public-Health Informatics

Topic: Public-Health Informatics
Numerous opportunities are available to facilitate public health informatics’ impact on public health surveillance (Bailey, Hoyt & Yoshihasi, 2012, page 426). An important opportunity is the increasing adoption of EHRs and health information exchange (HIE) systems. The demonstration of meaningful use of EHRs, as articulated in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule, includes three public health requirements: electronic submission to public health agencies of immunization registry data, reportable laboratory results data, and syndromic surveillance data.
EHR and HIE systems collate information about individual patients from different information systems (e.g., registration, clinical record, laboratory, and imaging) and through information exchange or aggregation from across different provider entities. Adoption of the systems is incentivized and facilitated by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in the United States. Enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 (US. Congress, 2009), the HITECH act authorized Medicaid and Medicare financial incentives for providers to adopt and use EHRs and authorized funding for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to encourage health IT adoption, aid in standard-setting, build the workforce, and support state- and regional-level development of HIE (Savel, 2014, pp 19).
The goal of this funding has been to modernize the health system by promoting and expanding the adoption of health information technology by 2014. Consequently, opportunities are available to facilitate public health informatics’ impact on public health surveillance. For example, hospitals now have an economic incentive to electronically transmit reportable laboratory results to public health agencies (electronic laboratory reporting). This improves the speed and ascertainment completeness of reporting and affects the surveillance work flow and work load. As the semantics and the syntax of such electronic reports become more widely adopted, such information flow more easily between computer applications and systems (i.e., interoperability). This interoperability creates the potential to eliminate data-reentry into case management applications, which improves efficiency while reducing resource requirements and data-entry errors. As clinicians and public health workers increasingly work in electronic environments using the same types of interoperable data, the opportunity for bidirectional communication around cases or clusters of conditions also increases.
Bailey, N., Hoyt, R. E., and Yoshihasi, A. (Eds.). (2012). Health Informatics: A Practical Guide for Healthcare and Information Technology Professionals. (5th ed.).
Savel, Thomas G. “The Role of Public Health Informatics in Enhancing Public Health Surveillance.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 July 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
US. Congress (2009). American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Student 2:
The spread of consumer health informatics (CHI) has been tailored around managing health issues. The trend of widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHR) and increasing consumer interests in health informatics is contingent upon the widespread availability of internet, the adoption of home broadband connection, and the increase of wireless/mobile internet access (Bailey, Hoyt and Yoshihashi, 2011). Internet access has made health informatics more accessible for people to gain knowledge of medicine information. The internet has allowed the public to log onto various sites from their home, a coffee shop, and their phone to seek information regarding medical symptoms and treatments. “56% of internet users look online about certain medical treatment or procedure while 44% of internet users look online for information about doctors or other health professionals (Bailey et al, 2011).” The internet has definitely empowered people with the ability to
stay informed.
CHI has had a significant impact on public health informatics, but the field is still new and subject to critiques for effectiveness. CHI provides applications that will reach consumers at a lower cost and perform some functions that were once only available by humans. Bailey et al (2011) states that CHI applications have an impact on health outcomes by three significant elements: individual tailoring, personalization and behavioral feedback. Individual tailoring builds knowledge of what intervention is necessary; personalization designs the intervention; and behavioral feedback provides consumers with information about their wellbeing and intervention progression (Bailey et al, 2011).
The utility and dynamics of CHI have created a support system for better health outcomes and behaviors. Bailey et al (2011) states that public health informatics is “the systematic application of information and computer science and technology to public health practice, research and learning.” Public health networks and geographic information systems are just a bridge that helps public health informatics more successful in studying the health of large populations. The popularity of programs such as Meaningful Use will help reporting public health informatics gain momentum in developing a standard in the way electronic information is exchanged. The HITECH Act and the Affordable Care Act are efforts that will affect public health in an important way by increasing care coordination in a positive way to ensure local and global health organizations are succinct in monitoring preventable chronic diseases.
Bailey, N., Hoyt, R. E., and Yoshihasi, A. (Eds.). (2012). Health Informatics: A Practical Guide for Healthcare and Information Technology Professionals. (5th ed.).