Saturday, March 19, 2011

IT, Informatics, Information Systems, & CKM

But what does this mean for clinicians and administrators who are trying to make decisions?
It means that health IT is not sufficient. Even clinical informatics is not enough. Decision makers need the right hardware, software, infrastructure and personnel trained in HIT, clinical informatics, and clinical knowledge management. Robust health care information systems are required.
Health information technology (HIT) is the hardware and software that is responsible for the collection and presentation of clinical data and information. HIT is continually occurring in the health care setting that utilizes an electronic medical record. HIT is the foundation of clinical knowledge management because it involves the capturing and classifying of data.

Clinical informatics is the process of contextualizing the data stored in health IT applications. The contextualization creates clinical information that is presented to clinicians or decision makers when interacting with software, i.e. displaying an abnormal lab value as red and a normal lab value as blue.  Clinical informatics is difficult to achieve without an electronic medical record and occurs when users retrieve stored data. Clinical informatics forms the supporting pillars of clinical knowledge management as it involves the retrieval and evaluation of data.

Health information systems are the combination of people, processes and technology that facilitate health care decision making by the creation, storage and sharing of clinical knowledge. Health information systems utilize HIT and clinical informatics, but only occur when organizations purposely set out to facilitate decision making based upon sufficient information to create actionable knowledge. Simply installing an electronic medical record application does not create a health information system. Health information systems are the complex structure that allow for the efficient execution of clinical knowledge management.

With robust health information systems in place clinical knowledge management can be leveraged to improve the delivery of health care.

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