This essay describes various areas of healthcare informatics, evaluates the current state of consumer health informatics, its future trends, and existing challenges. The paper briefly investigates and ranks three different informatics groups according to their role in the process of designation of information technology systems and assessment of their performance.
Areas of Healthcare Informatics
Healthcare informatics covers various areas of application of health information technologies. It helps to improve the efficiency and quality of medical services. Also, healthcare providers obtain new various opportunities for the medical treatment of patients. For example, new technological solutions improve the ability to obtain and store medical information.
Healthcare informatics comprises the following areas: clinical research informatics, translational bioinformatics, public health informatics, clinical informatics, and consumer health informatics (AMIA, n.d.). Clinical research informatics facilitates the research and discovery of new diseases and ways of treatment. Translational bioinformatics represents the designation, storage, and interpretation of the medical information. Public health informatics applies technological solutions to medical surveys and preventive procedures. The application of information technologies for rendering medical services in various medical institutions is the main goal of clinical informatics. Consumer health informatics provides understandable medical information to patients through various means of telecommunication and information technologies.
Consumer Health Informatics
This essay places the main emphasis on the description of consumer health informatics. This area of medical informatics enables providing relevant medical information, analyzing the needs and necessities of each patient, and making important decisions concerning the management of medical treatment.
At the current moment, healthcare informatics aims at providing understandable medical information to the consumers, clinicians, and other stakeholders. Much attention is paid to accessibility and usability (Goldberg, 2011). People can obtain relevant data in any place at any time through mobile technologies and platforms. According to the official investigation performed by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, 57 percent of modern healthcare organizations have mobile technology policies (HIMMS, 2015). Nowadays companies are developing special applications for people with disabilities who require constant medical monitoring of their health condition (Goldberg, 2011). In the nearest future, they will also create special public and private websites. These sites will provide customers with more reliable medical information and audio assistance to blind people (Goldberg, 2011).
Presently, the developers of healthcare information systems face numerous challenges. These problems relate to the usability and accessibility of websites to people with deficiencies, the insufficient power of technological design, lack of customer orientation, and insufficient analysis of the medical information. Existing health care information systems are not powerful enough “to handle the volume of information and the complexity of medical data … to support both patients and professionals in doing their work” (Goldberg, 2011). People who are working on the designation and realization of technological solutions often do not make the necessary connection with the users. Ignorance of accessibility requirements leads to the situation when people face considerable difficulties in obtaining and understanding the medical information. Also, the great variety of medical data (treatments, diagnosis, etc.) creates formidable obstacles for categorization, standardization, and obtaining statistical results. This information is necessary for the analysis of the efficiency of provided services and future improvements to technological solutions.
Definition and Ranking of Informatics groups
The current work provides a ranking of the following information groups: the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), AsthmaMD, and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). AMIA is a non-profit organization that has the goal to increase the quality of consumer health informatics and accessibility of medical information to common people. This goal is reached by improving informatics education of the healthcare providers through the establishment of special training to non-professionals and rendering support to medical and informatics professionals and academics. This scientific association was established in 1988 (AMIA, n.d.). It plays an active role in the formation, delivery, and widening of knowledge in the area of healthcare informatics. Its support of the informatics education facilitates the development of new informational solutions and improvement of the quality of existing medical technologies. AMIA holds the third position in the given ranking because the education and support provided by this organization form the background of designation, realization, and further development of medical informatics solutions.
AsthmaMD occupies the second position. This company was established in 2009. It develops mobile applications used for tracking personal peak flows and symptoms of asthma. The purpose of these applications is to increase the effectiveness of asthma treatment. The users can track their medical condition and take medications in due time. AsthmaMD makes medical treatment and health information technologies more patient-oriented. Each user can set the application according to his personal needs. This company has a direct impact on the development of consumer health informatics because it improves methods of rendering medical services to the patients. It also makes medical treatment simple and accessible. Specialists who received knowledge at AMIA are involved in the process of creating AsthmaMD applications. This company holds the second position because its operation is based on the knowledge obtained at AMIA. At the same time, the quality of developed applications is assessed by the agency from the upper level.
AHRQ is the governmental agency that has the aim to improve the safety, quality, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare providing on the territory of the USA. The agency assesses the impact of consumer health informatics on rendered medical services. The Healthcare Research and Quality Act adopted by the American Congress (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2015) established AHRQ in 1999. This organization plays a considerable role in the formation of various health informatics technologies. Researches of this agency assess the performance of existing information technologies and determine their weak sides. Outcomes of these researches are used for further improvement of technological solutions and the development of more effective applications. The agency holds the first position in the described ranking because its representatives analyze the work of professionals who obtain knowledge with the help of AMIA and applications developed by AsthmaMD. AHRQ has a direct influence on the before mentioned organizations. Researches of this agency determine the weak sides of the performance of associations like AMIA and AsthmaMD.
This work provides a general overview of the following areas of healthcare informatics: clinical research informatics, translational bioinformatics, public health informatics, clinical informatics, and consumer health informatics. The main emphasis is made on consumer health informatics. This area enables users to obtain understandable medical information through various means of telecommunication and information technologies. At the current moment, different mobile applications and platforms are used for this purpose. Future trends of the development of consumer health informatics aim at providing more relevant information and improving accessibility. However, this area faces considerable challenges: insufficient customer orientation, the power of technological design, and analysis of the medical information. People with disabilities still cannot use modern healthcare technological solutions. Also, this paper contains ranking and a short description of AMIA, AsthmaMD, and AHRQ information groups.