Usefulness of a Regional Health Care Information System in primary care: a case study
The paper highlighted the benefits of implementation of a regional integrated health information system in the primary care unit as health centers. The health information system connects the primary care units to secondary care units as central hospital in the region. It specifies the importance of such integrated health system in dealing with chronic diseases of multiple signs and symptoms. The authors selected diabetes as an example of this disease in their study. The study focused on presentation of the usefulness of a regional health information system that can be accessed by the authorized physicians in primary care under patient consent.
Some of usefulness that the paper claimed is improvement of such disease management and enhancement of health care by supporting the patient follows up quality. The paper also proved that such implementation of information system saves time and money. The authors try to explain how the access of diagnostic information in electronic health records of diabetic patients (as an example of time challenging disease) is timely valuable and how access to such information in a real time could solve a lot of consequences of the disease such as heart disease.
The study is performed on 20 diabetic patients came to the primary care center. Only 4 patients had insufficient diagnostic information that made the physicians in need of further patient's investigation to take the medical decision. After implementing the regional health information system, the physicians could communicate with patient’s records archives through the integration of information systems. The first case is a diabetic patient suffered from cardiac symptoms. The insufficiency of diagnostic information made the physician to get the help of the regional system located in the central hospital. The access of patient data aided the physician to rapidly prescribe the treatment for the patient. Then we can see how these systems save work process and consequently the time.
Other case came to the health center in Finland for doing an ordinary check up of his diabetic condition. The physician accessed the networking information system to get latest eye imaging results. The remaining 2 patients had the need of updating their health insurance card. Their latest health data and tests in the secondary care unit could be accessed electronically without the redundancy of non needed tests. The benefits are reducing the work flow and accelerating of obtaining the results. So, saves effort, time and money. By these results; the authors have concluded that implementation of a networking regional health information system is of great usefulness to improve the health patient care and work flow especially to multi symptoms disease and timely access intervention disease.
This paper has achieved its purpose of increasing the awareness of the benefits of regional health system by providing us with clearly understood ideas and cases, but there are some points we need to highlight it that may weaken the study and made the need of further research is an urgent request. One of them is the area study restriction to only Satakunta, although it is suitable with the title of study to be regional rather than at state level or international. The study also provided evidence of the benefits in a patient oriented manner and ignored society or widespread benefits to the health care environment. The number of patients in this study is not sufficient to generalize the concept without assessment of statistical significance of the results.
Adham Emam ;Feb 2009