Computer application: implication of e-health and e-health program evaluation - Computer Essay Example
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Implications of e-Health and e-Health Program Evaluation Paper.
Submit a 1500 word analysis of the benefits and limitations of an e-health initiative from consumer and provider perspectives - Computer application: implication of e-health and e-health program evaluation introduction. This e-health application can address health information, self-care/triage, provider/referral, or education about specific disease(s)/disorder(s). In your analysis be sure to evaluate the benefits of this application to the consumer and organization. What are the community benefits? Drawbacks? What are the financial ramifications? What ethical issues are at stake? How might the identified limitations be mitigated and the benefits maximized? How has the advent of e-health affected the consumer/provider paradigm in contemporary health administration? Discuss the ethical and access issues involved, and describe the desired outcome of this strategy. Support your assertions with appropriate references.
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With a rise in the population, the demand for healthcare is increasing rapidly. Patients want to have more and more control over their healthcare. Hence the healthcare providers have to work in partnership with the patients in providing patient-centered care. Patients may be unable to manage their healthcare without the internet. The World has undergone a digital revolution, and the internet application has been extended for use in the healthcare sector and in patient management (Lohman, 1999). More than a 100,000 websites are based on health, and about one-third of the people who are using the internet are accessing health and medical information in order to fulfill their health needs (Podichetty, 2003). In the year 1996, the NLM database was searched about 7 million times, which increased to 120 million, in the year 1997 (Podichetty, 2003). It offers the patients and the healthcare providers a huge number of benefits. New pathways in communication in the healthcare sector have been opened up and new transactions have been enabled for the convenience of both, the patient and the healthcare provider.
The internet has especially been useful in the field of the healthcare management as several procedures such as provision of health information, monitoring of the patient’s condition, getting approval for treatment and answering any query from the patient. However, the internet also has certain limitations which may have to be managed through other means. E-health includes all supportive healthcare digital devices and practices, and is the utilization of E-commerce in the healthcare and the pharmaceutical sector (Health.gov, 2006). The patients and the healthcare providers are able to access information better, make decisions of healthcare and communicate with each other in a more convenient manner.
Disease and treatment can be more closely monitored and supplemental health activities can be performed. However, not all instruments are available which take care of all the healthcare needs. E-health requires a lot of resources (including human resources, financial resources, MIS, support systems and time), and hence such as initiative should be strategize from the top management positions.
E-health has a lot of benefits for the patients:-
1. Patients can search from information about their condition, and have better knowledge about the various options they have in managing their condition.
2. They can receive support for behavior change especially in stopping alcohol or smoking.
3. Lifestyle management and healthy practices (including eating nutritious food and performing exercises) are better enabled through e-Health.
4. The patients, experts and the healthcare providers can interact better through the digital world, which can also be kept confidential.
5. The patients can make better decisions about their treatment.
6. The patients are able to evaluate the various insurance and reimbursement options available which could fulfill their healthcare needs.
E-health offers a lot of benefits for the healthcare provider also: –
1. The healthcare provider can follow up the patient more closely using the e-health services through e-mail and chat.
2. The healthcare providers can exchange a lot of information through the internet with other healthcare providers located in other parts of the world.
3. Telemedicine which will enable the healthcare providers in distant areas to clear their doubts with specialists located in other parts of the world.
4. An environment conducive to medical and health-based research is created.
5. Treatment and the prognosis can be improved, significantly.
6. Comparatively, E-health is more cost-effective than previously utilized communication devices between the healthcare provider and the patient.
7. Insurance claim processing, EDI and managed care contracts can be better handled using the internet.
8. The patient’s records can be kept safely in an electronic mode and can be accessed quickly in any part of the world, as and when required.
9. The employee productivity in the healthcare organization can be improved.
10. The healthcare organization can market its healthcare products and services more efficiently through e-health.
11. Several procedures with reference to pharmaceutical research such as monitoring of clinical trials, submission of information to the regulatory authority and direct contact with the patient can be enabled through e-health.
12. As resources are used in a more efficient manner, the relationship between the patient and the healthcare provider improves.
13. There is no break in the flow of the information from the healthcare provider and the patient and vice versa.
14. Evidence-based medicine and practices can be promoted through e-health.
However, the internet also has a lot of limitations: –
1. Patients may be accessing not evidence-based and poor quality information on the internet.
2. Patients may create unnecessary problems with the healthcare provider by accessing defective information.
3. The patients may be accessing healthcare information not meant for them.
4. Most of the information available on the internet is commercially oriented.
5. Some of the information accessed by the patient on the internet may be filled with errors. The patients may not be able to judge from a credible and reliable website and those that provide fraudulent or frivolous information.
6. Information generated by people who do not possess appropriate qualifications.
7. Patient records and confidential information may be misused as the security level on the internet is very low.
In the US, the cost of healthcare is moving upwards. E-health has definitely transferred some of the activities performed by the healthcare providers such as patient education, a more efficient and quicker communication system, reduction in the cost of transportation, etc. This has definitely helped reduce the cost of healthcare. Several insurance companies, managed care organizations and hospitals are trying to market their products and services to the customer through the internet, and this has reduced costs by creating a competitive environment. Besides, use of electronic patient records has helped to reduce implementation and maintenance costs. The patients may have to spend a lot in setting up a computer and accessing the internet. However, the internet can also be used for other purposes such as banking, shopping, conducting e-business, etc. Some of these internet websites may in fact persuade a customer to purchase a healthcare product or service that is actually not required. Many of the healthcare organizations are spending unnecessarily on creating websites that are attractive to the customers. These costs are later transferred to the customer when they purchase the healthcare product or services.
Electronic medical records (EMR) system has huge number of benefits for the healthcare provider and the patients. The relevant medical details of the patient can be accessed at any given point of time and potentially, from any point on the earth. The information is both accurate and reliable. Special features such as drug allergies and systemic conditions can be well-highlighted. The electronic medical records can be set in a user-friendly mode. They are very much suited to process claims for insurance agencies. The cost of implementation, maintenance and development of an EMR system is very low compared to a manual medical record system. However, an EMR system does have a few limitations. The security level for an electronic version of the patient’s records is very low, especially if the record exists in the internet. A huge potential for misuse is present. Although several governments have implemented laws to protect electronic patient data, the privacy issues is still is huge concern (B-net, 2007).
Frequently, websites do not provide a feedback email address for its users, and do not assure the visitors of maintenance of confidentiality of personal information. This leads to a lot of ethical issues. The website should display a disclaimer in the webpage or should at least have a link to it. This would ensure that the visitors are aware that the information accessed by them is only for educational purposes and not as an alternative for the physician’s advice. A website that provides high-quality information would be thoroughly evaluated by a peer-review committee. However, it may be very difficult to peer-review all the information existent on the internet, as it is a time-consuming procedure. Hence, alternatives to peer-review need to be initiated. The users should be provided with certain criteria by which they can evaluate the article by themselves. At the user’s end, a software can be installed which would automatically the search information based on criteria set by the user or labels provided by a reputable organization (Eysenbach, 1998).
It is very important that the patients are able to identify faulty medical information. The patients should know that such information would exist on the internet as it would be tough both technically and legally to remove them. They should receive a list of websites recommended by the physician as validated information. Several reputed medical organizations have setup their own websites that provide evidence-based information. Some of these organizations may be government organizations such as NLM, NHS, WHO, etc. The Health on Net Foundation has been validating medical information and is considered to be well-known accreditation organizations. Websites that have the HON Code Symbol can be considered as validated (Reddy, 2006).
The advent of E-health has changed the manner in which the patient can seek healthcare and has also affected the physician-patient relationship. The patients are taking more responsibilities with respect to their healthcare because of the availability of medical information, recommendations, monitoring devices, and support groups. They are taking interest in their health and this ensures an even grater responsibility of the physicians and other medical professionals. The physicians are often asked complex questions about healthcare and details of the latest diagnostic and treatment techniques. Due to the increased awareness, the accessibility and quality of care has improved to a great extent. Email has been one of the most utilized services on the internet, and it can be effectively utilized by the patient and the physician to communicate. As it is a written record, all further doubts can be efficiently prevented. This is one advantage Email has over oral communication. Besides, proof exists in case any medico-legal problems develop later (Robertson, 2004).
I do feel that e-health has revolutionized the delivery of healthcare. It also enabled the patient to play a greater role during the treatment and also enabled better quality of care. However, it is essential that the patients follow a few precautions so that they are not misguided into following defective information. They should be able to judge the quality of the website before any medical information is being followed. Besides, in no way can the physician’s advice can be substituted by advice available on the internet. As the security level on the internet is very poor, confidential information should be handled with care both by the patient and the healthcare provider.
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