The 21st Century has experienced significant advancements in healthcare service delivery and community health initiatives due to cutting-edge technological solutions to facilitate disease identification and treatment interventions. Health information systems and public health informatics are among the latest technological innovations being developed to support more efficient and high-quality health services. As a result, various healthcare departments continuously apply these approaches to yield better outcomes. More specifically, the adoption of public health informatics in disease surveillance has proved beneficial in aligning the goals of healthcare systems and allowing collaboration through all levels of health service provision. Hence, this essay details the role of health informatics in infectious disease surveillance in communities.
Public Health Informatics and Public Health Informatics Networks
Public health informatics refers to the application of information technology and computer science resources in the fields of public health, including learning, research, health promotion, disaster preparedness, disease prevention, and surveillance. Generally, public health informatics depends on data and information about particular disease phenomena to deliver better services and improve human health. As a result, public health informatics has far-fetched applications since these solutions can be tailored to meet the objectives of particular programs (Menachemi et al., 2018). Public health informatics is especially beneficial in aligning health indicators in the community with institutional objectives to enhance population health. However, most health information systems are in their introduction and implementation phases, thus posing issues regarding their reliability.
The Public Health Information Network is an advanced national initiative established by the CDC and rolled out in 2004 to advance and coordinate interoperable health information systems in medical organizations. The purpose of PHIN is to enhance the capabilities and interoperability of public health information systems across various organizations in the healthcare industry (Menachemi et al., 2018). In addition, the PHIN aims to accelerate the implementation of a comprehensive national network of health information management and preparedness systems. In a broader sense, the PHIN intends to facilitate unlimited access of health institutions to a national grid that is equipped to accomplish numerous healthcare functions.
Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE)
The continuous exchange of health records and information is critical to effective and efficient healthcare service delivery. As a result, several organizations have come up to support seamless communication and transfer of information between parties in healthcare institutions. The Indiana Health Information Exchange is one pioneer of health information sharing first incorporates in Indiana on 24th February 2004. The organization works with the Regenstrief Institute to support the innovation and integration of new technologies in healthcare institutions (Dixon et al., 2021). Generally, the company makes it possible for various health practitioners addressing a particular case to access patient records and the information required for treatment across organizations for the highest possible quality of care. Moreover, it offers various health information services to medical practitioners all over the US.
Currently, the organization has 35 employees who work round the clock to deliver medical messages to clinicians. Since its inception, the organization has grown to handle the delivery of more than 1.4 million messages monthly to about 9900 medical practitioners. Nevertheless, it continues to implement growth and expansion plans by acquiring new information resources and customers. The Indiana Health Information Exchange has played a crucial role in advancing healthcare service quality and patient care (Dixon et al., 2021). Due to the vast number of patient records, most of which exist in paper format, medical errors are bound to occur, thus slowing down the treatment process for medical practitioners and patients. However, nurses, clinicians, medical officers, and other practitioners can limit errors and advance treatment solutions through the timely sharing of medical information. Subsequently, health information exchange organizations facilitate the completeness of medical records thus reducing the inefficiencies of incomplete records. Hence, they have encouraged significant changes toward high-quality healthcare.
Role of Informatics in Infectious Diseases Surveillance and Management
Infectious disease surveillance informatics is an emerging field of public health whose intention is to model, create, and share information about the management of infectious diseases in the community. Health informatics prioritizes integrating structured and unstructured data into information to aid decision-making. On the other hand, infectious disease surveillance systems collect structured data from health information systems. Therefore, the role of informatics in infectious disease surveillance is to optimize public health initiatives and the clinical management of infectious conditions using information collected from various sources to develop and improve antimicrobials, create potent vaccines, identify the indicators of critical medical conditions, and understand the epidemiology of diseases in the community (Francis & Francis, 2022). As a result, the adoption of informatics in disease surveillance results in more organized and effective techniques to prevent disease, diagnose conditions and treat various infections by first reviewing their metabolic profiles and effective agents to counter attacks. Subsequently, the integration of informatics into infectious disease surveillance has boosted translational science and the adoption of reductionist approaches to disease treatment.
The healthcare landscape is information-intensive resulting in several issues in the appropriate management of medical records and patient information. Moreover, medical practitioners work in high-pressure environments where mistakes and confusion can cause adversities. However, technological solutions like health informatics and patient records have significantly alleviated information management in medical institutions. Unfortunately, most medical institutions in the US are at their initial stages of implementation, leading to unprecedented setbacks and inefficiencies (Williams et al., 2019). Nevertheless, the emergence of improved technological solutions has allowed medical institutions to advance their systems and tailor their initiatives toward positive outcomes. For example, the integration of health informatics and infectious disease surveillance has allowed seamless information sharing between clinicians in different jurisdictions and levels. Moreover, it has allowed the channeling of more resources into preventive approaches to curb infectious disease outbreaks before they advance. Thus, these solutions play a major role in enhancing the quality of healthcare service delivery.
Public health programs have played a crucial role in creating awareness and informing individuals of their right to quality healthcare. However, they have increased the workload of medical institutions, obligating healthcare systems to adopt better solutions to managing disease conditions in the community and facilities. Health information systems are a cutting-edge technology because they facilitate the seamless sharing of data from one institution to another and between medical personnel. However, these systems have gone through numerous advancements to create national information-sharing frameworks that have proved beneficial in healthcare service delivery. Subsequently, the integration of health informatics with processes like infectious disease surveillance has facilitated unmatched improvements in efficiency and the adoption of preventive approaches to eradicating disease. Therefore, it is important to conduct more research on how to improve these systems because they constitute the future of healthcare service delivery.
Dixon, B. E., Luckhurst, C., & Haggstrom, D. A. (2021). Leadership Perspectives on Implementing Health Information Exchange: Qualitative Study in a Tertiary Veterans Affairs Medical Center. JMIR medical informatics, 9(2), e19249.
Francis, L. P., & Francis, J. G. (2022). Informatics and public health surveillance. Bioinformatics, Medical Informatics and the Law.
Menachemi, N., Rahurkar, S., Harle, C. A., & Vest, J. R. (2018). The benefits of health information exchange: an updated systematic review. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 25(9), 1259-1265.
Williams, F., Oke, A., & Zachary, I. (2019). Public health delivery in the information age: the role of informatics and technology. Perspectives in public health, 139(5), 236-254.