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TIMG: Health Information Management and the future of the patient chart

Health Information Managers (HIMs) play an important role in the management and protection of patient data and information. Ensuring accurate information retrieval and overseeing the coding process are just two of the key responsibilities assigned to this role not to mention the constant pressure around urgency, security, and other related KPIs.

At some time or another in our lives, we’ve all needed, or will need, to visit a hospital. The importance of accurate health information management and retrieval in this context, is never treated lightly and can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. As such, it is crucially important that HIMs do their job with the utmost professionalism to maintain high levels of accuracy with their teams and within the broader hospital ecosystem. 

What does the future hold for the physical medical record?

The future of the paper medical record in healthcare is increasingly under the spotlight and HIMs are constantly developing strategies that look towards the future, ensuring a streamlined system with top accuracy and compliance. The reasons for this constant scrutiny and eventual transition to a digital patient chart include:

  • The Australian healthcare industry is undergoing a digital transformation. Electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic medical records (EMRs) have become the norm, providing instant access to patient information from various locations within the hospital and beyond. The digital format is more efficient and cost-effective in the long run.

  • Electronic records enable better interoperability between different healthcare facilities, making it easier to share patient data securely. This is particularly important in a country like Australia, where patients may receive care in multiple locations.

  • EHRs empower patients to access their medical information, fostering patient engagement and self-care. This not only enhances healthcare delivery but also aligns with the principles of patient-centred care.

  • The digital format enables hospitals to employ advanced data analytics and machine learning algorithms for improving patient outcomes and healthcare processes. Large datasets can be analysed to identify trends and predict disease outbreaks.

  • Electronic records are more resilient to natural disasters and other unforeseen events. Data can be backed up and stored offsite, reducing the risk of data loss in emergencies.

  • As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, the transition to electronic records is also driven by the need to reduce paper waste and lower the carbon footprint of healthcare institutions.

Health Information Managers in large and busy Australian hospitals will continue to play a crucial role in ensuring the efficient management of patient data, accurate information retrieval, and the coding process. Keeping a firm grip on time management around urgency and accuracy will remain paramount, particularly when a patient is admitted to the hospital. 

The transition from legacy information storage and management practices will not only enhance patient care but will also help streamline administrative processes, ultimately leading to better healthcare outcomes for all Australians.

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