Informatics & Patient-Centered Care: Concepts & Uses

Instructor: Maya Shapland

Maya has worked in the clinical, education, and management sections of healthcare for over 25 years and holds bachelor's degree in Speech and associate degree in Nursing.

Patients are the center of this lesson, which explores the ways in which healthcare has blended information technology with patient-centered care to improve quality, access, and engagement of patients in their care.

What Is Informatics?

Garrett is a nurse with information technology experience. He is working with the computer software team to build solutions into the software to give patients and staff more access to information and education. Keeping the patients and their families at the center of his projects are a high priority.

In healthcare, informatics is the process of using data and information technology to innovate and improve the planning, management, and delivery of healthcare. Professionals in this field investigate the needs of patients and staff and look for ways to design solutions to address those needs. Each step in the process is mapped and tested for vulnerabilities. Once the final decisions are made, the solutions can be developed into an application for others to use.

Informatics Design Process

When developing software applications that will be used by healthcare staff or patients, it is helpful to use a team approach to ensure that the application will meet the needs of the user. Garrett's team is trying to develop an application that will allow patients to enter their health history for the physician. To look at this application from a patient perspective, they invite a patient representative to offer input on the application. Garret and the patient representative work together on the wording of assessments questions for new patients.

Building and testing is the next step in the process. Garrett's team builds the application and then tests it themselves. After analyzing the software and working out potential bugs, they launch the application and allow patients to test and evaluate it.

Informatics Design Process
Informatics Process

Informatics and Patient-Centered Care

Patient-centered care involves placing the patient at the very center of the plan of care and including patients and their families in the decision-making process. Viewing the patient as the most important person on the healthcare team allows patients to make decisions suited to their needs and values. But before patients can make decisions about their care, they need information and education about their conditions and treatment options.

Research has shown that patients can experience a higher level of quality care based on the information given and received. Accurate information is critical to the patient's safety. Lifesaving details about a patient's allergies can, for example, prevent a tragic outcome. Delivering quality care using informatics can be improved by engaging patients and families, analyzing the patient experience, and assessing the data obtained from the device that was used. Tracking areas of concerns, such as an increase in the weight or blood pressure of a patient, can signal difficulties early on and provide opportunities for intervention.

Another quality improvement is on-scene in many healthcare systems across the nation. Interoperability is the ability of many healthcare providers to access the patient's electronic medical record and keep the information updated in real time. It's carried out by networking computers to exchange information as necessary. For example, the patient may see their cardiologist about their heart and their internal medicine physician about their other problems. Both physicians are connected with the patient's record so that they can work as a team.

Linking health providers and services can further improve communication and teamwork thereby, improving quality.

Interoperability-Networking Information
Informatics interoperability

Patient Applications

Many hand-held devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are now being used to help patients keep track of their health, report results to providers, and find information to support their decision-making regarding their own health. Patients can report outcomes, such as signs and symptoms and changes in their condition, to providers for disease monitoring and intervention, all from home. Patients reduce their visits to the provider and the costs of their healthcare.

Some examples of apps now being used include:

  • Remote heart, blood pressure, and weight monitoring
  • Remote ECG (electrocardiogram) and oxygen monitoring
  • Appointment reminders
  • Direct messaging with providers
  • Medical, disease, and drug reference
  • Patient portals for entering and updating patient information
  • Physical fitness and nutrition tracking
  • Patient-reported outcomes assessments

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