A community health information network analysis is an infrastructure that is developed for the purposes of providing information on health status of patients and other relevant healthcare information using technology for the benefit of various organizations and other healthcare stakeholders in the program.
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The existence of the community health information analysis came into existence with the emergence of e-commerce in the early 1990s. The need for accurate, timely and secure access to patient information across the continuum of care was becoming critical in the provision of efficient and quality healthcare. The emergence of e-commerce provided a good avenue for the establishment of the community health information analysis, a concept that grew out of grassroots efforts to streamline information among the many partners with the common goal of better integration of care and increased cost savings. The development in the world of technology similarly facilitated the creation of the CHIN, as hospitals were able to switch from the mainframe legacy systems to complex, integrated, PC-based clinical, financial decision support systems.
The community health information network analysis is therefore, an organization and technical entity designed and operated to facilitate the electronic data interchange and integration of various types of health care information for the benefit of the healthcare organizations, patients and healthcare professionals that participate in the network. An example of a fully developed community health information network analysis was the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare coalition. This coalition was established in 1994 by the Chicago Metropolitan Healthcare council and the Illinois medical society with the sole aim of providing correct, timely and accurate information to healthcare stakeholders and patients. The CHIN brought together over 110 hospitals and other providers including, over 1800 doctors, 8 payers, 10 clinics, 13 ancillary service providers, and other learning institutions. The coalition was developed to provide better coordinated, more efficient care for uninsured patients. The target population for the CHIN was therefore mainly the uninsured patients although it also carried out some other functions such as processing patient claims and insurance eligibility information and also provides some access to clinical information such as laboratory results, drug prescriptions and patient records (Deana & Josy 2003).
The system was made to provide information through the creation of a data network and a data repository to measure cost and quality from competing providers in the community. Through the creation of a such a network, with create functionality, physicians could thus be able to use the networks to access laboratory reports, send prescriptions refill orders to pharmacies on the network, and communicate with other physicians through the use of e-mail. Such increased levels of connectivity increased the standards of healthcare for the residents and thus the community was well served. The coalition, through its projects, enabled public hospitals to handle disasters well through efficient response and disaster preparedness. The increased organizational collaboration in the healthcare industry facilitated good coordination in times of disasters. For instance, one of the projects set up by the coalition was the provision of a mobile pharmacy unit which serves to offer support to public health institutions where they are overwhelmed (James & Pinger & Jerome 2008). Similarly, the CHIN did not just stop at providing information for participants in the network, it also introduced online x-ray, online laboratories, pharmacies, and other clinic services; in this way, people could get information and be able to seek medical attention though the network. The major ethical issue that arose under the CHIN was if private patient information could be accessed by other individuals thereby compromising on confidentiality of the patients (Michele 2004).
In conclusion, the community Health information network was faced with a number of challenges which limited its proper application. The issue of limited access to the network played a critical role in bringing down early CHINs largely due to reliance on cumbersome pre-internet technology, lack of standardization of data, and insufficient funding sources. Some of these challenges have been overcome today though others still persist.
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