Medicine can be defined as an art and science of healing. In its wide spectrum, medicine encompasses a wide variety of health care practices that have gradually evolved over the time to restore and maintain live and restore health through the prevention and treatment of ailments. In the context of contemporary medicine, sophisticated technologies, biomedical researches and health science are applied to diagnose and treat diseases mainly through medication or therapy.
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Medicine has developed in line with the scientific and technological advances and today, the art has become increasingly sophisticated as for instance modern biotechnological advances allow for the development of drugs that are directed at specific physiological processes (Tan & Payton 2010).
Medical informatics is a recently emerged discipline of study that involves the use of computer technology for organizing, analyzing, managing and using information to improve health care. Medical informatics mainly aims at achieving four principal objectives:
- Developing standards and clinical guidelines to be observed by health care providers.
- Formalizing and standardizing all medical terminology
- Enhancing the usability of all health information systems so as to facilitate flow of information
- Managing and monitoring the flow of information between physicians and the patients.
Medical informatics stems from researches into the application of computer technology in medicine. The discipline has gradually evolved and today it encompasses extensive applications from biostatistics, economics, cognitive psychology and business management.
Standards are specifications that have to be met by health care providers. Standardization is a critical element for effective and efficient health care system. A good standardization process ensures that there is consistency across all practices regards a particular issue. Standard specifications sets limits for the extent of variances and these limits tend to minimize the deviations from the agreed specifications (Tan & Payton 2010).
This way, standardization ensures that all health care practices conform to the same principles of practice. The need for standardizing the health care system has resulted into the development of a common medical vocabulary system. This has made it easier for different players in this field to communicate with each other and also to coordinate their activities. Common terminology is vital in ensuring that results can be measured and be reported easily with a lot of consistency across all the practices, institutions and regions.
HIPAA is an abbreviation for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability. This is a set of laws that have been enacted specifically to protect health insurance coverage for workers as well as their immediate family members when they lose or change their jobs. HIPAA requires the establishment of national standards so be set for all electronic health care transactions. This involves national identifiers for providers, employers and health insurance plans (Tan & Payton 2010).
Specific provisions have been made to address the issues of privacy and security in respect of health data. HIPAA oversees and regulates the availability of group health plans and several health insurance policies. Further, it has the mandate to limit any restriction that a group health plan can place on benefits that might be related to pre-existing insurance conditions. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act defines several offenses that are related to the health care and sets appropriate civil and criminal penalties that have to be met by those who defaults the provisions. All rules apply to covered entities and this includes health plans, health care clearing houses and health care providers (Tan & Payton 2010).
Health management information systems are essential to development of sound health care systems. However, knowledge does not involve the mere use of information but rather it entails application of the information within a context of organizational development. An efficient health care management information system should be user friendly as such a system will assist hospital managers in aligning health care resources with the needs of service users.