Healthcare: Managing Patients' Health Information

The exchange of information concerning health is a very crucial function for the provision of a quality and cost-efficient system of health care. The data should be comprehensive and timely to serve the intended purpose. The release of information to a medical facility is paramount for the continuity of care offered to the patients. It provides the direction to the people involved with the revelation of patients’ private information to ensure that health information remains to be secured. Similarly, it helps in promoting, reporting, and investigation of other functions. Certain privacy rules are established and they contain particular requirements for the management of health information. These requirements ensure that the discretion of the patients is enhanced, and there is a balance in the need for a quick and well-versed delivery of health care services. People managing patients’ health information have the responsibility of overseeing and educating the staff on the accurate system data entry, data quality, authorizations, and consents among others functions. The master patient index helps them in organizing patient information. The organization’s rules and measures should include key administration practices that support the proper release of information to avoid negative effects of health care delivery. Therefore, the effectiveness of the release of patient information and disclosure is dependent on the quality of data, accuracy of the data systems, and the equipment such as the master patient index.

The master patient index is an electronic medical catalog that holds data for each patient recorded at a health facility (Crapo, Coyle, Owen, Pearson, & McRae, 2014). It may also contain data on doctors and other employees in the service. The idea of a quality program that upholds a clean MPI is necessary for any health care provider. The MPI is the connection to pursuing a patient or a member’s action within an enterprise across patient care locations. It contains information required for the swift location of a patient’s medical record. Unfortunately, there are errors exhibited while using the MPI. Patients are unintentionally added to the files numerous times, which deters proper provision of health care, as the providers do not have a comprehensive health history (Crapo et al., 2014).

A good example of such an error is data redundancy and duplication. If the information files operate independently, the system of an organization suffers from data redundancy. It causes the duplication of the patient’s information, which leads to the waste of assets, workforce, and even the computer storage. The moment this error occurs, there is data discrepancy and lack of common standards. For instance, the change of the patient’s address may lead to a patient having an address in the file of one entity that is dissimilar from the address in the files of another entity. It may also happen in the case of patients who alter their names after marriage. The error implicates the presence of proper records; therefore, it is necessary to manage strictly this error to reduce the costly replication of work and wasted resources (Crapo et al., 2014). The staff handling the equipment should have the qualifications required as well as adequate regulation. When they are being hired, they should take exams that would test their suitability in becoming record-keepers.

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Another patient identification error is the overlay error. The patient is allocated to another patient’s medical record. Consequently, the reliability of the patients’ medical records suffers from problems. The error detaches the patients from their earlier medical history, making it very hard for practitioners to provide quality and comprehensive health care (Crapo et al., 2014). The overlap error occurs when more than one medical record number is registered at separate facilities for the same patient. It mostly happens when a patient visits numerous facilities, causing him or her have many personal files. Comparing the demographic statistics is left as the only option to tie the patient’s unique numbers. A conversion process should be done by the HIM specialists to combine or overwrite the information for the identical and overlapping entries.

Data can help enlighten how people think and drive them into more efficient health care and business choices. The data has to be of high quality to serve its purpose in the proper health care management (Hosek & Straus, 2013). There are several aspects of information quality. The accuracy of data means that it is exact and precise without any errors. It is essential, especially in making the clinical conclusions based upon the gathering of information. The inaccurate data may cause harm to the patient since he or she may be given the wrong prescription. Accessibility of data is also of critical importance. The users should be able to obtain necessary information at any given time. Looking for information in the health records results in the waste of valuable time, hindrances, and the patient may not get timely attention. Quality data requires consistency regarding uniformity and regularity. It would prevent the misunderstanding of results or any cases of vagueness (Hosek & Straus, 2013). Comprehensiveness is essential too because it ensures that all data elements are apprehended and complete to tell the full history of the patient. Quality data needs to be current and timely by recording it each time an observation is made to ensure that it is very accurate. Relevancy is also a critical aspect of determining the quality of data. The information collected must have a bearing on the matter at hand. It should be relevant to the reason, for which it is gathered.

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The quality of data can significantly affect patients. Medical errors are common in many health care facilities, and they cause harm to patients. Studies show that a considerable number of patients die yearly due to such mistakes (Hosek & Straus, 2013). The problem is not caused by the lack of dedication to the quality care by health experts but by the lack of schemes that stop errors from happening. The errors made during hospitalization cause larger costs such as increased span of stay and additional procedures for the patient to undergo. Studies show that nearly one in three Americans come across errors while in the hospital. Another study also shows that 1.5 million computable medical errors arose in 2008 (Hosek & Straus, 2013). The wrong diagnosis due to inaccurate patient’s records significantly affects the patient’s safety and the delivery of services. The results are health-care related contaminations and patient falls.

There is a difference between authorization and consent as well as how they affect the release of different type of patient information. Consent is an overall document that gives healthcare providers a direct association with a patient approval to use and reveal all protected health information (Hosek & Straus, 2013). Medical practitioners may condition the delivery of cure on the person providing this agreement. Only the providers have the mandate, and one consent may cover all uses and releases. Authorization, on the other hand, is a more modified document that gives the protected individuals the permission to use specified protected health information for a particular purpose. They may include revealing the information to a third party indicated by the person. Authorization is more comprehensive and precise than consent, and it covers only the uses and releases specified in the authorization (Hosek & Straus, 2013). Similarly, the covered entities may not condition cure or coverage on the individual providing authorization. It has a date of expiring and may state the reason, for which the data may be used or unveiled.

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In conclusion, the release and management of health information are quite essential in the provision of health care. Health practitioners should ensure they have an accurate system of data entry as well as quality data to enhance proper delivery of health services. The records should be accurate, complete, genuine, and available to the authorized providers. Organizations should develop strategies to ensure that the primary demographic data is accurate, including a timely correction of the duplicate records. To avoid instances of medical errors, health care facilities should employ qualified personnel to handle the MPI. Training programs would also greatly help in improving the quality of services offered in hospitals.

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