Informatics in the Clinical Setting
The increasing role of health informatics in any healthcare and/ or clinical setting has resulted in increased recognition of informatics professionals in the healthcare industry. In every facility, informatics professionals are involved in a variety of roles whose objective is to improve healthcare safety and service quality through information technology. One of the positions associated with these roles is the health informatics coordinator job. An interview was conducted with A.A., a health informatics coordinator at a renowned city hospital, with the objective of understanding the roles associated with the job and the challenges he experiences within the clinical setting in which he works. The ensuing paper presents a description of some of the information obtained about the health informatics coordinator job.
Role Description and Education Level
A health informatics coordinator within a clinical setting or in the healthcare industry is also referred to as a health information manager. The role entails working at facilities such as nursing homes, clinics, hospitals or any other facility in which healthcare service delivery is the objective. The health informatics coordinator role involves ensuring the accuracy and security of biomedical information databases in the facility. Those in this position use advanced coding systems and informatics tools to achieve their objectives in accordance with the principles of information technology management. Additionally, the health informatics coordinator also supervises the activities of technicians tasked with maintaining health informatics databases and with running analyses for insurance reimbursement objectives. These technicians are also responsible for assessing database qualities and they do this with the help of the health informatics coordinator. The health informatics coordinator should therefore stay abreast with all the latest trends in biomedical information technology. This is to ensure that the healthcare organization where they offer their services uses cutting-edge technological techniques to minimize confidentiality concerns in data management.
The education requirements for a job as a health informatics coordinator include a bachelor’s degree in an informatics-related field. However, clinical facilities prefer to hire candidates with a Master’s degree. Additionally, most healthcare facilities give preference to candidates with experience as health information technicians. These understand the clinical information environment and are capable of optimizing the available technologies, analytical techniques, and database management processes for optimum outcomes. Candidates for the role need to understand and have expertise in information technology as well as healthcare administration. For this reason, undergraduate and graduate courses may include subjects like biomedical science, biomedical management, and computer science among others.
The roles of the health informatics coordinator affect patient safety and quality of care in several ways. The most important aspect of healthcare service delivery is information sharing and accuracy. In an age where electronic health recording has become increasingly important, patient safety and healthcare quality both depend on the credibility of information shared concerning patients. Inaccurate patient information can result in negative patient safety outcomes such as medication errors, prescription errors, and misdiagnosis among others. As such, the health informatics coordinator plays an essential role in ensuring there is data accuracy in the use of electronic health records and subsequently in the delivery of quality and safe healthcare services.
Human Factors Affecting the Role
The health informatics coordinator job can be challenging as it demands attention to detail across the entire healthcare organization. Various human factors affect the performance and perspective of the healthcare informatics coordinator. Human factors affect the safety and usability of health information technologies through influences on systems, services and applications for healthcare information technology. According to Ulrich and Kear (2014), some of the human factors that affect the roles of the health informatics coordinator include management/ leadership support, communication, fatigue, stress in the workplace, the work environment, and the team structures among others. In explaining leadership support, Kushniruk et al. (2016), posit that effective leadership support not only promotes job satisfaction for the coordinator but also ensures that requisite resources are available for effective job performance. The interview with A.A also showed that outcomes such as stress and fatigue can negatively affect the performance of the health informatics coordinator. When under stress and/ or fatigue, the decision making capacity of the health informatics coordinator can be impaired, resulting in slower action, reactive rather than proactive action and poorer quality of decisions. These outcomes can have detrimental effects on patient safety and the quality of care delivery due to their impacts on the quality of information shared via healthcare facility databases.
In addition to the aforementioned factors, A.A also reported resistance to change as a probable challenge to his role as a health informatics coordinator. In his experience, he has faced challenges pushing through suitable technology changes due to resistance from various healthcare practitioners. This can however be addressed by involving key healthcare practitioners such as nurse leaders, throughout the change process to enable them understand the rationale behind change and to support the recommended change. The team structures also affect practices such as communication, which can either enhance or limit the effectiveness of the health informatics coordinator in his role.
External Influences on the Clinical Setting
The Joint Commission Patient Safety Goals and the Patient Safety Indicators developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) have provided an effective framework for healthcare facilities to focus on patient safety and improve the quality of healthcare services delivered. In a typical clinical setting, the Patient Safety Goals direct the focus of healthcare facilities on promoting surgical safety; eliminating or reducing the major causes of patient harm; preventing in-hospital infections, falls and pressure ulcers. For clinical facilities focusing on these goals, it is mandatory to maintain preventive measures against and keep records on protocols that prevent in-patient suicide; to continuously conduct and record patient safety risk assessments; screen patients for behavioral characteristics that portray suicide risk and to monitor high risk patients for harm prevention Kushniruk, Nohr and Borycki (2016). The patient safety indicators by the AHRQ help clinical facilities to monitor progress towards improving healthcare outcomes based on specific high risk practices such as pressure ulcer rates, retained surgical equipment prevalence rates, and post-operative hip fracture rates. These indicators are tied to the patient safety goals given by the Joint Commission. Through their mandatory regulations, the AHRQ and the Joint commission have continued to impact on healthcare delivery safety and quality. Healthcare facilities have to adhere to the provided stipulations in order to be fully compliant for third party financing (Medicare and Medicaid).
Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform (TIGER)
The Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform (TIGER) initiative was developed to foster inter-professional development in education reform among communities. Its other objective is to develop a global workforce that maximizes technology and informatics integration into clinical practice, education and development of research resources. Within the clinical setting, TIGER is most applicable in healthcare research and education. TIGER utilizes different technologies in different clinical settings to enhance education management and information sharing. For instance, one of the common resource sharing interfaces used by TIGER is the TIGER initiative website, which provides several educational resources for both nursing education and seamless practice integration (Schlak & Troseth, 2013). Its objective in sharing this information is to enable inter-professional healthcare colleagues to deliver effective, patient-centered and safe healthcare services.
Kushniruk, A., Nohr, C., & Borycki, E. (2016). Human factors for more usable and safer health information technology: Where are we and where do we go from here? Yearbook of Medical Informatics, 1, 120-125. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5171573/
Schlak, S.E., & Troseth, M. (2013). TIGER initiative: Advancing health. Nursing Management, 44(1), 19-20. Retrieved from journals.lww.com/nursingmanagement/Citation/2013/01000/TIGER_Initiative__Advancing_health_IT.5.aspx
Ulrich, B., & Kear, T. (2014). Patient safety and patient safety culture: Foundations of excellent healthcare delivery. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 41(5), 447-456, 505. Retrieved from www.annanurse.org/download/reference/journal/patientSafety1.pdf