Technology has gifted medical sciences with innovations to provide the best treatment procedures in health care delivery system. Health Information Technology is an effective tool that has helped in augmenting the efficiency and accuracy of health care management systems.
Health Information Technology may be defined as the application of information technology (IT) for the efficient management and manipulation of healthcare data and information (Ciampa & Revels, 2012). Computerized systems are used to store patient data electronically which can be shared or retrieved later with the help of an electronic interface (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). A number of tools such as Electronic Medical Records, Patient Health Record, Electronic Dental Record, e- Prescribing and Practice Management Systems are being used in Health IT (What is health IT?).
Personal Health Record is a Health IT electronic application that enables an individual or any other person authorized thereof in collecting, retrieving, sharing or maintaining healthcare information electronically (What is health IT?). With the use of this technology, the geographical location of patient and physician become immaterial (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). The online availability of the diagnostic test reports eliminates the need of unnecessary, redundant diagnostic tests (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). Patients can avail online consultation while giving full access to electronic medical records to their physicians (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). ‘My HealtheVet’ is a typical example of a Health IT online application, provided by the United States Department of Veterans affairs which enable patients to manage their healthcare needs more efficiently (What is health IT?).
Patients are ensured of protection of their privacy by the Health IT system (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). However, their confidential data may be used for research and analysis purpose to benefit the community at large. For e.g. medical records of a patient suffering from a rare disease may be used for future reference.
Challenges with regard to Patient’s Rights
Through the use of online portals, patients can access a wide range of available tools which enable them to schedule appointments, renew prescriptions; and keep track of their medical treatment etc. (What is health IT?). However, there are some privacy and security concerns while storing and transmitting healthcare data electronically (Health Information Technology)
Principle of Beneficence
Principle of Beneficence refers to the duty of health care providers to take appropriate steps that are beneficial to the patient (McCormick & Min, 2013). Being an electronic system, it is likely that some inadvertent errors may creep into the patient’s record (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). Over dependence on the electronic records for diagnosis may lead to false treatment, thereby compromising the potential benefits to the patient by the line of treatment (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010).
Principle of Autonomy
Principle of Autonomy implies that the patient can act according to his own will without the controlling influence of others (McCormick & Min, 2013). While allowing online consultations, Health IT must allow decision support tools giving respect to the patient’s autonomy (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010).
Principle of Fidelity
Principle of fidelity advocates truthfulness, loyalty, dedication and fairness to the patients (Short Definitions of Ethical Principles and Theories). It basically refers to keeping a promise made and being loyal to the patient (Short Definitions of Ethical Principles and Theories). Health IT system is expected to keep patient’s medical records safe and secure (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). However, the online system is prone to security and privacy threats such as hacking, unauthorized access to patient data, identity theft, etc., which may undermine the trust of enrollees upon the system (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). Patients may feel embarrassed by the disclosure of their medical condition to outsiders (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010).
Principle of Justice
Principle of Justice suggests the fair distribution of health care resources among the individuals (McCormick & Min, 2013). However, Health Information technology has not been adopted uniformly by the entire healthcare industry owing to requirements of huge investment in replacing manual systems with electronic ones (Ciampa & Revels, 2012). This has led to Health IT system accessible only to a few people such as veterans in U.S (What is health IT?).
Practical Case Scenario
Implementation of Electronic Medical Records in Cancer Treatment Centers of America in 2008 brought about tremendous improvement in data collection and its processing (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). With rapid diagnosis and treatment action plan, the survival rate of a breast cancer patient zoomed to 27.7% as compared to the national average (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). Electronic Medical Records enabled faster sharing of data with oncologists thus facilitating quick decisions of the treatment plan (Herrick, Gorman, & Goodman, 2010). Moreover, the data transmitted using an encrypted code reduced security threats, thus ensuring the confidentiality of records (Ciampa & Revels, 2012).
Health information technology has revolutionized the functioning of healthcare delivery systems. The basic role played by Health Information Technology is in maintaining a check on medical errors that were common in manual record books. Healthcare Organizations are gradually adopting Health IT System due to its established benefits to the patients and physicians (Expanding the Reach and Impact of Consumer e-Health Tools, 2006).
Ciampa, M., & Revels, M. (2012). Introduction to Healthcare Information Technology. USA: Cengage Learning.
Expanding the Reach and Impact of Consumer e-Health Tools. (2006, June). Retrieved July 8, 2014, from health.gov: http://www.health.gov/communication/ehealth/ehealthtools/conclusion.htm
Health Information Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2014, from HHS.gov: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/special/healthit/
Herrick, D. M., Gorman, L., & Goodman, J. C. (2010, April). Health Information Technology: Benefits and Problems. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from NCPA: http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/st327.pdf
McCormick, T. R., & Min, D. (2013, October 1). Principles of Bioethics. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from University of Washington: https://depts.washington.edu/bioethx/tools/princpl.html#prin3
Short Definitions of Ethical Principles and Theories. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2014, from American Nurses Association: http://www.nursingworld.org/mainmenucategories/ethicsstandards/resources/ethics-definitions.pdf
What is health IT? (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2014, from HRSA: http://www.hrsa.gov/healthit/toolbox/oralhealthittoolbox/introduction/whatishealthit.html