Healthcare is always changing. How data is broken down and used in the medical world has developed countless informatics positions, which utilize the fundamentals of geospatial information systems — increasing the need to earn a GIS degree.
There are times a single trend or development can reshape an industry. Television turned previous mass communication on its head. Refrigeration changed food distribution and storage. Transportation was never the same after the invention of the internal combustion engine.
Healthcare has seen a number of waves, such as the introduction of sanitary and sterile conditions in operating rooms, vaccines, antibiotics, and scanning and imaging. Now the industry is experiencing the latest development: health care informatics. More than just handing doctors tablets or storing patient records electronically, informatics is the full integration of information technology capabilities into the delivery of health care. The practice will touch virtually every aspect of health care — and offer growing opportunities for people who get a MSN, nursing informatics degree, as some 50,000 health care informatics workers will be needed in the next 5 to 7 years. There will also be a 21 percent projected increase in health care IT jobs between 2010 and 2020.
Data provided by informatics can help create understanding of how to better direct health care to improve patient outcomes and increase efficiency and effectiveness of overall care delivery. The potential changes are powerful, as shown by some of the statistics in the post.
- Half of all health care expenditures are wasted today, whether through repeated procedures, delays and costs of traditional information sharing methods, manual record keeping, errors made in care, malpractice insurance rates and claims, or other issues in how the industry works today. Using electronic systems has shown that 75 percent of clinicians can get lab results faster, malpractice claims can drop sharply (in Massachusetts, a study showed 189 practices went from 49 to 2 cases after introduction of electronic health care records), and 82 percent of practitioners found that electronic prescription systems saved time and reduced errors.
- The bigger the health care industry has grown, the more difficulties it has had in providing good results for people. The problem is size: too much information on too many people getting care at the same time. The massive amount of data and the work needed to capture and appropriately route it are beyond what an army of people can do. Informatics helps appropriately record and share information among different care providers. Suddenly, the background information that one doctor has, along with test results and imaging, is available to a specialist or lab. Change doctors and your history doesn’t have to vanish. Three-quarters of surveyed practitioners said that electronic healthcare records let them deliver better care.
- Patients can learn more about their own care and become active participants. Patients can see their records, meaning that they might catch a mistake. There is also the possibility of self-care and levels of automation not currently possible.
Such a massive transformation needs the people who can make it happen. That’s why a degree in informatics will become an important credit for the professional lives of so many.