It’s Time to Design Health Information System For General Public
Health information system, in general, is any set up that provides all types of basic information about the availability of health facilities in a specific area. A population-based health information system can guide our federal & provincial governments in planning and regulatory decision-making. Public health decision-making is critically dependent on the timely availability of sound data and complete health information. It enables the system to meet the needs of an individual patient and their relatives.
In Pakistan,we are facing multiple problems related to basic health information, not only in rural areas but also in well-developed urban territories.
- First major problem is a lack of information for common
- The second one is the lack of public access to health information.
- The third one is thatthe general public has no information about what kind of public or private medical facilities, such as labs, diagnostic centers, and health providers are available in local areas.
- The fourthone is lack of information about the availability of basic investigative medical services like X-Ray, CT scan, MRI, mammogram & different lab tests within any specific area.
The role of health information systems is to generate, analyze, and organize such data according to the requirements of society’s under-developed areas. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, health information systems rarely function systematically. This problem is a semi-product of historical, social, and economic issues. Our federal and provincial health ministries are largely responsible for the problem. The outcome is painfully apparent in the inability to generate the data needed to monitor progress towards the provision of advanced and well-developed health information system for the general public. They are complex, fragmented and unresponsive to the welfare and basic needs of the community.
Overall in Pakistan, health facilities range from small clinics to urgent care centers and large hospitals with elaborate emergency rooms, operation theaters, and trauma centers. The number and quality of health facilities in a country or a specific region is one common measure of that area’s prosperity. In Pakistan, health facilities are regulated to some extent by federal & provincial health ministries. Generally for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, federal and provincial governments, private and public sectors, and in some cases individuals own and operate these health facilities. So, there is a need for a very organized approach to collect health data and detailed information about available medical facilities from all the mentioned above health providers.
Globally there has been tremendous progress in medicine as well as informatics. Now considering health information systems (HIS), we need to discuss three questions:
- What are the lines of development in health information systems from the past until today?
- What is the importance of HIS and how will it shape the future?
- How to develop and design a well-organized health information system?
What’s The Solution?
It’s time to design an easily accessible, mature, and practical health information system in Pakistan for the general public. To achieve this goal, consider the following lines of development for HIS:
- A health information system can help increase public awareness regarding drugs, lifesaving medications, available medical facilities and services, and management of acute and chronic diseases
- A well-organized health information system that can provide information about hospitals
- Information about available medical centers for specific diseases like TP, leprosy, and sexually transmitted diseases
- Construction of health information system in locally understandable languages by the general public
- Shifting from paper-based to computer-based processing and storage. In addition, the increase of data in healthcare setups
- The shift from institution-centered & departmental hospital information systems towards regional and national HIS database of Pakistan 7.
- The inclusion of health consumers and patients as HIS users, besides health care professionals and administrators
- Using HIS data for patient care, administrative purposes,andhealthcare planning by the federal, provincial and local
- Use for clinical and epidemiological research
- The shift from mainly alpha-numeric data in HIS to images, graphs, and tables to easily understandable for the general public
- The speedy increase of new technologies to be included in health monitoring & construction of health information system