The Health Information Systems: Functions and Advantages

Health Information Systems are revolutionizing the way people access medical services. The information revolution brought about by the development of Information Technology in the last half of the twentieth century is responsible for this phenomenon. The advantages of Health Information Systems in medical services include the use of decision support systems, ease of data capture and retrieval, and possibility of using analytical techniques to generate information from aggregated medical information (Hersh, 1995). It is important for every physician to have a clear picture of the benefits that a health information system can provide. This proposal presents a scientific basis for research into this question. The main research question guiding this process is, “What Roles do Health Information Systems Play in the Work of a Physician?”


This research project has three main objectives listed as follows.

  1. To identify the roles played by physicians in health institutions

Physicians play varied roles in health institutions (Wittrup, 2007). These roles may be medical or administrative in nature. These roles depend on the local laws, workload, and availability of other medical professionals. The roles also depend on the nature of hospitals the physicians work. It is important to work out the complete range of duties physicians play in different settings.

  1. To identify the bottlenecks that physicians encounter in their work

Physicians must rely on other medical professionals such as nurses, laboratory technicians, and specialized professionals such as radiologists to carry out their work (DiMatteo, 1998). This interdependence in healthcare settings results in various bottlenecks that affect the work of physicians. There is need to find out the problems physicians face and their gravity in order to figure out how Health Information Systems can play a greater role in eliminating these bottlenecks.

  1. To map out the existing and the future roles that Health Information Systems will play in the work of physicians.

To complete the study, it will be important to examine how the health sector currently employs Health Information Systems available to physicians. It will also be important to identify the future role that Health Information Systems can play in the work of physicians.


The importance of this research project is that it will provide a fair view of the role that Health Information Systems play in the work of a physician. There is need to manage the expectations every physician has in relation to the capabilities of Health Information Systems (Smelcer, Miller-Jacobs, & Kantrovich, 2009). Similarly, every physician needs to be aware of the opportunities these systems avail to improve their operational efficiency. Health Information Systems are already part of the medical services infrastructure and it is only fair for physicians to be familiar with the potential and possibilities of these systems in order to increase patient satisfaction.

Literature Review

The roles physicians play in any healthcare setting are in a state of flux. The changes associated with their role emanate from changes taking place in their operating environment. The main drivers behind these changes include legal and regulatory requirements, new knowledge relating to patient care, advances in medical technology, and increase in the number of specializations in the medical care industry (Ulmer, 2010). The fundamental role of a physician is taking care of patients. In a strict sense, this role involves identification and assessment of relevant medical facts relating to a patient, reaching a diagnosis, followed by prescribing and implementing treatment (Wittrup, 2007). However, these roles require the physician to play several other roles in order to provide healthcare effectively. DiMatteo (1998) identified several roles a physician must play as part of healthcare provision. These roles include communication with the patient, their families, and other medical professionals playing a part in the care of a patient (DiMatteo, 1998). A physician also has ethical responsibilities to ensure that the medical care given meets the set ethical standards (DiMatteo, 1998). As part of a team of medical professionals, a physician also needs to coordinate and cooperate with the other health professionals, as well as keep an eye on the cost of providing care to the patient (DiMatteo, 1998). Finally, a physician must understand how to interact with technology because an increasing number of healthcare facilities depend on various technologies to optimize medical care (Ulmer, 2010). This list of roles is not exhaustive, but it provides a general mapping of the nature of roles a physician plays in a health facility.

Health Information Systems have been playing an ever-increasing role in healthcare. A physician must understand how Health Information Systems work in order to offer medical services effectively. There are various types of Health Information Systems. They include Electronic Medical Records (EMR), point of care systems, different types of decision support systems, among others (Hersh, 1995). These systems help physicians in various aspects of their work. First, Health Information Systems make it possible for physicians to record all the treatment given to a particular patient. This forms the basis of a medical history for that patient. The advantage of medical histories based on Health Information Systems is that they will be available to all the physicians who will treat the same patient in the future for reference (Smelcer, Miller-Jacobs, & Kantrovich, 2009). Secondly, decision support systems help to generate treatment options for specific patients. Decision support systems aggregate data from different patients and use it to generate optimal treatment procedures. For instance, a physician can compare different treatment regimens for the same medical condition based on cost, effectiveness, and suitability to a case without the need for proficiency in the rigors of data analytics. Thirdly, Health Information Systems make provision of healthcare fast and efficient (DiMatteo, 1998). A physician can access all the information they need to make decisions from one point. This increases their effectiveness.

Several questions arise from these issues. First, how are changes in the medical service provider models affecting the traditional and emerging roles of physicians? Is it possible that at some point, technology will replace the work of a physician? In this context, is it reasonable to assume that physicians must become more “tech-savvy” to survive in the modern healthcare setting? How much should a physician rely on decision support systems given that these systems use aggregated information to provide support, while in reality, each patient has a unique medical history. These questions will inform the progress of this project.


The research project will look at the roles of a physician from the perspective in the Dubai Hospital. The issues surrounding the use of the Health Information Systems in this hospital form the context of the study. By looking at the roles of a physician in the context of this hospital, the project will provide valuable insight into the posture physicians should take towards Health Information Systems. Many physicians do not get the opportunity to reflect on the role they play in healthcare institutions. They simply execute their mandate and move on. However, Health Information Systems will soon have a big impact on the role physicians play in the Dubai Hospital, hence it is important to examine all the contextual issues to better prepare for these changes.

The main benefits that will emanate from this study are that physicians will see that their place is changing in health institutions amidst the drive to implement different types of Health Information Systems, and they will have the information they need to adapt. However, this study may not answer all the important questions relating to these changing roles because of the unpredictability of the changes. What is important today may become insignificant tomorrow because of the sheer speed of technological changes. Information Technology brings about destructive changes whenever it is the principle driver of change. Health Information Systems expose the medical care industry to these forms of changes. One breakthrough in Information Technology may require an overhaul of existing systems in order to take advantage of new capabilities presented by the new technology.


The study will require the use of three methods

  1. Questionnaires

A questionnaire will be the main data collection media for use in this study. The questionnaire will target physicians in order to determine their assessment of their roles within the Dubai hospital. The questionnaires will have open-ended questions and multiple-choice questions in order to extract both qualitative and quantitative data (Jacobs, Rapoport, & Jonsson, 2009). Principally, the main questions will have multiple choices while the supporting questions will have open-ended questions to provide an opportunity for the respondents to justify their choices. Email will be the mode of dispersal of the questionnaires. This decision comes from the understanding that it is easier to analyze data in electronic form. However, the use of email questionnaires will bring about data security concerns, hence the decision to make the responses anonymous (Holmes, 2005). Exemption from this rule will apply in cases where respondents prefer hard copies of the questionnaire.

  1. Interviews

In order to validate information collected through the questionnaires, specific interviews with senior members of staff, senior physicians, and some of the questionnaire respondents will take place. The interview with some of the questionnaire respondents will take the form of a focus group discussion in order to validate the data collected in the email questionnaires to clarify any unclear issues. On the other hand, interviews with senior administrators will take place on a one-to-one basis. These administrators have been with the hospital and in the medical industry for a long time hence, they are valuable resource persons. It will also be imperative to conduct one-on-one interviews with senior physicians to get a sense of perspective relating to the changes in the roles of physicians over time.

  1. System Evaluation

Finally, it will be important to map put the medical services system used by the hospital. This will include an analysis of the relationships that support the assigned roles of the physicians in the hospital. These relationships include peer-to-peer relationships, cross-functional relationships and relationships with external stakeholders. In addition, the system evaluation will map the use of Health Information Systems with an emphasis on systems with a direct impact on the roles of physicians. There are several Health Information Systems in the hospital but physicians do not interact directly with some of them. It is imperative to look at these associations in order to understand the full impact of the operating environment, which includes human relationships and technological support systems, on the physician.


This survey intends to uncover the issues that surround the use of Health Information Systems in hospitals, their impact on the current and future roles of physicians, and their place in alleviating bottlenecks faced by physicians.

Part 1: Roles Played by Physicians in Health Institutions

  1. What are the main roles you play as a physician? (List at least three roles)
  2. Do you play any roles that you feel someone else should be playing? (Yes or No)
    1. If yes, which one(s)
    2. Please explain why you feel someone else should be playing this role.
  1. How do the roles you currently play compare with the expectations you held before becoming a physician?
  2. Do you expect the roles physicians play to change in the next three to five years?
    1. If yes, how and why?
    2. If no, why

Part 2: Bottlenecks Physician Face in their Work

  1. On a scale of 1-5, please rate the degree of difficulty you experience when working in the following conditions (Scale: 1-not difficult, 2-moderately difficult, 3-difficult, 4-very difficult, 5-extremely difficult)
    1. Working with fellow physicians
    2. Working with other health professionals (e.g. nurses)
    3. Working with hospital administrators
    4. Dealing with patients
    5. Dealing with the relatives of patients
    6. Working with IT equipment
  1. What are the reasons for your answers in question 1 above
  2. Do you think technology can help alleviates some of these difficulties
    1. If yes, how?
  1. Do you think healthcare regulators support the work of physicians? Justify your answer.

Part 3: Current and Future Roles of Health Information Systems in the Work of Physicians

Health Information systems refer to the technological tools that help in the process of patient data collection, analysis, storage and retrieval. Please answer the following questions based on this understanding

  1. In your view, what part of the IT infrastructure in the hospital is part of the Health Information Systems?
  2. In your view, is the use of health information systems in healthcare justified?
    1. Please justify your answer in question 2 above
  1. In which of the following ways is the existing Health Information System in your hospital useful to you? (Tick all the correct answers)
    1. The systems make it possible for me to offer services faster
    2. I can find information I need quickly
    3. It reduces the chances of making mistakes while treating a patient
    4. It increases the amount of work I can handle per unit time
    5. other
  1. What else would you like to be able to do using the Health Information system in your hospital
  2. What is your main concern about the Health Information Systems in use in your hospital
  3. Do you have other concerns?
  4. Do you think that patients receive better care from hospitals that use Health Information Systems?
    1. Why?

Thank you for participating in this survey.


DiMatteo, R. M. (1998). The Role of the Physician in the Emerging Healthcare Environment. Western Journal of Medicine , 168 (5), 328–333.

Hersh, W. R. (1995). The Electronic Medical Record: Promises and Problems. Journal of the American Society on Information Science , 772-776.

Holmes, D. (2005). Communication Theory: Media, Technology, and Society. London, UK: SAGE.

Jacobs, P., Rapoport, J., & Jonsson, E. (2009). Cost Containment and Efficiency in National Health Systems: A Global Comparison. Weinheim: Wiley Verlag.

Smelcer, J. B., Miller-Jacobs, H., & Kantrovich, L. (2009). Usability of Electronic Medical Records. Journal of Usability Studies , 70-84.

Ulmer, C. (2010). Future Directions for the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

Wittrup, R. D. (2007). The Changing Role of the Physician. Web.

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