Healthcare Information Systems

History of healthcare information systems

Even though health informatics picked up seriously in the 1950s, their history trace back to earlier years, however, they were very subtle (Wager, Lee and Glaser 2005). It is until the use of computers started growing at a faster rate in the 1950s that the system started being integrated more seriously into healthcare. It is then that we started having medical computing. This rapidly paved way for medical computer science that developed several skills of using the computer in the medical field. The progress led to the identification of the value of computers in healthcare, making health informatics emerge as a vital discipline that incorporates various disciplines (the prime ones being IT and medicine), and needs continuous research and development (Blobel 2008).

In the 21st century, clinical information systems have been developed with a focus on record keeping. These records are specifically the patients’ records that will help the doctors keep track of their health. It is therefore very important to have computer-based patient records, which have been abbreviated as CPR. The CPRs are designed to support users by providing wholesome, accessible and perfect information or data. They should also give alerts and reminders to help the practitioners remain or follow strictly their plans and schedules in serving the patients. The CPRs also are support systems for decision-making. The unique thing about this is that the systems are flexible to allow the continued changes in technology advancements. This calls for proper storage of information in good repositories that will enhance the easy adoption of the ever-changing technology.

Due to many proliferating entities that develop the systems of information in health care, there has been needing to form standards that harmonize their work to make it easier for the user to interact with the systems. Several systems are produced by different vendors for use in a single institution. This calls for a great need for standardization of these productions. The current trend is then that bodies have been set up to keep the standards of the different wings of health care, information systems being one of them. The leading body for the development of standards is the International Organization for Standards (ISO). Others are also in individual countries to make sure that certain standards are kept in different organizations. In the USA, we have: “The American Dental Association, The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E31 Subcommittees on Healthcare Informatics, The Health Industry Business Communication Council, Health Level 7, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, The Accredited Standards Committee on Insurance Interchange Standards (X12N)” (Fitzmaurice 1999). The standards have also been made mandatory in the field of health information systems and have been included in the legislation. On this, Johns (2002) says, “The regulations promulgated as a result of this legislation contain among other standards those for electronic claims data interchange, information privacy and data security” (Johns 2002).

As the use of Information Technology increases in healthcare institutions, the main concern in these institutions has been data security. This is because health care should always be concerned with being confidential about the clients’ information, and present themselves as institutions of high integrity in order to be trusted by the people they serve. Now that information is a precious asset to the institution, they must manage and protect it with a lot of care (Johns 2002). This trend has made it mandatory that people are trained perfectly in order to handle all health information very securely.

Issues that impede the growth of Health informatics

The incorporation of IT in health care has made healthcare get to channels such as the internet. The access of enormously large amount of information to all people, among them, are patients, researchers, doctors or health professionals, makes it easy for them to solve their problems or get their questions answered quickly. This may seem an advantage but it denies particularly the patients the traditional and professional touch of the doctors they had before. The internet is a very rich bank of ideas and this very character – its structure that allows dispatch of information from anywhere and from anyone, the potential for worldwide reach, the proximity of answers, and capability to aid free-ranging exchange – also make it an outstanding source of possible misinformation, unscrupulous use, hidden partiality, secret self-dealing, deceitful practices, and avoidance of rightful rules. This is why it is still right that despite the growing information systems in healthcare, people should still seek advice from physicians personally.

It has been very hard to get the right legislation or a set of rules that will equally protect the rights and responsibilities of those who provide the IT services to healthcare and those who use these services (Johns 2002). Therefore it has been difficult to define the exact jurisdiction and policy that can be embraced worldwide to govern those aspects. This, therefore, requires professionals from law, bioethics, health, computing, and legal health to team up and draw legislation that will govern the relationship between the provider and users (Fitzmaurice 1999).

We have seen that one of the current trends in the health information systems concerns the security of information in healthcare, how to keep integrity, confidentiality and storing the information safely for future use and continued development of the healthcare information system. The risks that face healthcare that is using the information system that is highly integrated with IT issues on privacy and confidentiality. This probably has really reduced the rate of growth of this system which would otherwise be more advanced than this time.

Health informatics started growing rapidly from the 1950s and has developed greatly to date. The current trends majorly focus on Computer-based Patient Records, development of standards and security. However, we have some weighty ethical issues that have been making it hard for more rapid development. Such issues are the use of the internet to get health services, coming up with balanced legislations for both developers and users and security (Yasnoff, O’Carroll, Koo, Linkins and Kilbourne 2000). If all the parties concerned address these issues, this discipline will grow much faster.


Blobel B. (2008) eHealth: combining health telematics, telemedicine, biomedical engineering and bioinformatics to the edge: CeHR conference proceedings 2007. Berlin: Pro Universitate.

Fitzmaurice J. M. (1999). Federal Health Care Informatics Standards Activities. Web.

Johns M. L. (2002). Information management for health professions. New York: Cengage Learning.

Wager K. A., Lee F. W. & Glaser J. P. (2005) Managing health care information systems: a practical approach for health care executives. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Yasnoff W. A., O’Carroll P. W., Koo D., Linkins R. W. & Kilbourne E. M. (2000). Public Health Informatics: Improving and Transforming Public Health in the Information Age. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. 6(6), pp 67–75.

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