Technology over the past decade has advanced so dramatically and improved so many people’s lives in a variety of ways. Health and wellness fields have benefited from these technological advances as much as any industry. With these advancements, healthcare providers are able to improve the quality of care they provide for the people they serve. With the evolution of technology so has the development of electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic health records (EHR) systems. The importance of EMRs and EHRs are growing due to the need for large amounts of data and the ability to access information quickly.
Healthcare providers are under immense pressure to improve their effectiveness, limit errors, improve quality of care and reduce costs. New technology and electronic systems give providers the ability to improve patient care using a development similar to analytics, called informatics. According to Wan (2006), “Healthcare informatics research is a scientific endeavor that applies information science, computer technology, and statistical modeling techniques to develop decision support systems for improving both health service organizations’ performance and patient care outcomes” .
Informatics can be used in clinical and non-clinical settings as well. Clinical settings use informatics to facilitating better overall diagnosis, treatment, and research with information found from medical images, bio-medical, clinical trials, and medical records. “People trained in clinical informatics help transform health care by analyzing, designing, implementing and evaluating information and communication systems that enhance individual and population health outcomes, improve care and strengthen the clinician-patient relationship” . This information allows physicians to make the most informed decisions possible when providing care to patients. The non-clinical application of informatics is utilized to facilitate communication and collaboration on the administrative levels. Primarily integrating information involving EMR/EHR systems as well as financial and administrative records. Non-clinical informatics also includes consumer health informatics, information system planning, data security, and project management Ashrafi et al., 2014.
Telehealth is another advancement in the healthcare field that has been made possible by the improvements in technology. “Telehealth technologies include a range of telephone, video- conference and internet-based applications that allows consultations, assessments and intervention services to be provided over a distance”. With special equipment, telehealth is able to help patients stay connected to their providers. The specially designed equipment is able to record patient data and communicate the information with doctors and/or caregivers. Although the equipment is very high-priced, the capability to generate a personal digital health record from without being in a health care facility is invaluable. According to ACE.edu, “This health record manages personal data and provides consumers with trending statistics which are displayed through different illustrated graphs. This information can also be merged with other consumer data and grouped together to provide population-based care” .
In my school district, we have an intranet system with our records and data that can be accessed by educators, administration and nurses. Through our intranet system you can access 504 plans, individual education plans (IEP), health screenings, immunization records as well as any other health issues including; asthma, diabetes, allergies and/or students prone to seizures. In addition to the intranet, the nurse has access to a system called I-CARE. I-CARE is handled by the Department of Public Health and allows our school nurse to look up immunizations and physicals on students whose provider uses this system.
My school’s intranet system is not as progressive as the systems being used in the healthcare field. Our system was primarily designed for educators, not nurses and/or healthcare. The system we use is very rigid and does not allow the system to communicate with itself. This makes entering in information very tedious, time-consuming and increases the chance for errors. “The translation of the logic of health-care integration/continuity into practice lies in the planning and implementation of health-care networks and procedures” . More specific training with our processes and guidelines as wells as teaching individuals how to use the system more productively is very important. It is vital that we are able to use new technology to strengthen our coordination and develop more continuity within our system and district. “The use of technology allows nurses to access patient information more quickly, improve efficiency, reduce potential errors and access timely and relevant patient information” .
Other areas that need to be improved within our system are designing a specific area to document chronic and non-chronic injuries, dates of certain testing and the ability to run reports more easily. The nurse is able to input vaccination dates, physical/dental/vision/hearing dates, any illness or injury, health conditions, parent communication, medications, however; there is not a specifically designed area for this information. There is not template, protocol or a specific process for how it is to be entered. The nurse enters the information in the best way they see fit. We need more training, protocol, and process set up to maintain consistency within our electronic medical records system. After they are trained properly in these areas and know how to use the new tools, our nurses will have the skills to reach a new level of maintaining, delivering, and utilizing information that benefits our students .
Overall our system needs to be modified or in my opinion adopt an entirely new system. A system I have heard great things about is Skyward. This system gives nurses the capability to be more effective with adding and integrating student health information within the flexible but structured software. Using the same platform educators can use skyward to track student record grades, access curriculum management, accommodations for students, parent communication and more. The skyward software has both the educators and health professional bringing overall continuity.
As a physical educator, my role in health care aspects within our school is limited and focuses more on preventive health. I am able to access and view health issues for students through our district intranet system, however; I cannot enter any new information. That process of any health information and documentation goes through the school nurse. When a student in my class gets injured they bring a doctors note to the office for the nurse and the nurse makes an extra copy for my file. One improvement that would make this process more effective is adding doctor’s notes to the online system and eliminating paper copies altogether. Possibly have notifications set up in the system for when students are medically limited from participation and/ or cleared to resume activities. The skyward system I mentioned above incorporates a version of this within their system.
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