Clinical informatics involves the use of information technology (IT) and data science to support the effective management and utilization of health information and medical data. It also promotes the insights necessary to support clinical decision-making, patient management and overall enhanced healthcare delivery. This leads to improved healthcare outcomes and better patient care.
Like all technological advances, clinical informatics is continually evolving in response to changing needs. It has been incorporated into care delivery across diverse healthcare modalities and is now an essential discipline for driving medical innovation. Without it, today’s healthcare landscape would be very different.
The Role of Data in Healthcare Transformation
In healthcare, it’s often said that “data is king.” That’s because, even in a small subtext, data is what healthcare providers use to assess, monitor and treat patients. Expand that to the data available through clinical informatics, and it adds up to a more complete picture, both at an individual level and across organizations.
Harnessing Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
Across the United States, electronic health records (EHRs) are now the standard, with 96% of hospitals and almost 4 out of 5 office-based physicians using them instead of paper-based documentation. EHRs are a primary source of data in healthcare, as they contain centralized, integrated data from diverse sources. EHRs offer instant access to comprehensive data on everything from medical devices and wearables to social determinants of health (SDOH), and they help foster connections with a larger network of providers that serve the same patients. This holistic view of patient information, especially when combined with other informatics tools, promotes informed decision-making in the healthcare industry.
EHRs, Big Data Analytics and Real-Time Interventions
The use of clinical informatics through EHRs means that big data analytics can be leveraged in healthcare. As patient-related data can change quickly, often with serious implications, the value of analyzing large amounts of data quickly cannot be understated. By identifying patterns and trends in real-time, the right informatics solution can guide healthcare professionals in pinpointing health risks early and intervening proactively.
Improving Patient Outcomes through Clinical Informatics
It stands to reason that this enhanced visibility into patient data has unlocked a whole new way of approaching healthcare. In fact, there are a multitude of ways this has been showing up in the past few years. This includes personalized medicine, predictive analytics, and decision support systems.
Personalized Medicine and Precision Healthcare
Personalized medicine, also known as precision healthcare, tailors medical treatments to individual patients based on their unique genetic, molecular and clinical characteristics including health history. This approach is another use of big data analytics to enhance the effectiveness and safety of healthcare practices. Precision healthcare can tap into EHRs for patient-specific data that further clarifies decisions. It’s possible that by the year 2030, many applications of precision medicine will become a routine part of everyday healthcare.
Predictive Analytics in Diagnoses and Treatment
Another powerful clinical informatics tool, predictive analytics employs data analysis and machine learning to forecast potential diagnoses, complications, patient risks and outcomes. Predictive analytics aids clinicians in making informed decisions, optimizes resource allocation, and improves patient outcomes via proactive interventions. A rapidly growing area of healthcare informatics, predictive analysis is forecast to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.2% between 2023 and 2030.
Reducing Medical Errors with Decision Support Systems
Decision support systems can be integrated into clinical workflows within EHRs and other clinical informatics tools. By applying predictive analytics and evidence-based guidelines to real-time patient data, these decision support systems provide customized recommendations that aid healthcare providers in making accurate treatment decisions, minimizing errors, and even accurately diagnosing concerns. Examples include drug interaction alerts, risk evaluations related to diseases or procedures, and identifying changes in patient acuity.
Enhancing Patient Engagement and Empowerment with Clinical Informatics
Data-driven decisions lead to informed and empowered patients. Additionally, clinical informatics can grant patients access to their own EHRs, treatment plans and personalized health information. This transparency and personalized care drive patient engagement in care decisions. It also strengthens communication between patients and their healthcare providers.
Cybersecurity and Privacy in Clinical Informatics
Cybersecurity in healthcare is a top priority, as healthcare data includes sensitive and private patient information. Security breaches and data theft compromise patient confidentiality and threaten trust in healthcare systems. Furthermore, they are costly—higher than any other industry. This is not surprising considering the steep fines incurred when organizations fail to comply with health data protection regulations. While it can be argued that the benefits of clinical informatics greatly outweigh the risks, it’s critical for healthcare organizations to make sure their cybersecurity best practices are up to date with current standards.
Hartman Executive Advisors Can Guide Your Clinical Informatics Strategy
Clinical informatics has changed the healthcare industry. As big data analytics, precision healthcare, predictive analytics and decision support systems become more sophisticated, the real-time interventions and data-driven insights they provide will continue to change the healthcare landscape. Organizations that harness these tools and safeguard their data appropriately will be ahead of those who do not, especially in delivering better patient outcomes and enhanced patient experiences.
If you’re sorting through the many choices available in implementing clinical informatics, Hartman can help you prioritize based on your organization’s unique needs. For a no-cost consultation, contact us today.