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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Diana P. Jones, EdD, MS, RN (Slippery Rock University )
Description: This short book provides practical knowledge about healthcare information technology in easy to understand language, using numerous case scenarios, diagrams, tables and clinical evidence that can be applied in common patient situations. Key terms are defined in various chapters. An additional glossary of technical terms is included. All of the chapters conclude with a listing of further readings on the discussion topics.
Purpose: The purpose is to serve as an introduction to healthcare information technology. Understanding how to apply evidence-based information technology to improve clinical practice and patient outcomes is essential to care for patients with complex healthcare needs. A handbook on the potential impact of healthcare information technology in clinical situations is greatly needed.
Audience: Written by two clinical academicians involved in general practice and primary care, this book is designed as a resource on healthcare informatics for primary care, family practice physicians, junior doctors, and students in clinical practice. In my opinion, this is a valuable resource for all healthcare providers and informatics specialists in addition to those who are involved in clinical practice, education, public health, and nursing.
Features: In the first chapter, the authors explain what health information is, how to use the information, and communicate it to other health professionals and patients. The remainder of the book discusses how the provider's knowledge, skill, and captured electronic data can be used to support clinical decision making and actions to improve patient care and outcomes. Teleconsultation is a topic covered particularly well. The question, "Is a consultation needed?" sparks an interesting discussion. To answer this question, the authors explain how people with health concerns can investigate health issues before or instead of a consultation. Having access to eHealth tools, people can search for the information they need. The authors explain how to use search engines and patient orientated health portals, and the difficulty patients experience in accessing electronic medical literature intended for medical use. The authors conclude that if the person finds an electronic resource that satisfies the inquiry, perhaps no consultation may be needed. On the other hand, people who become patients will more than likely need the expertise of their physician to interpret their findings. The shortcoming of this book is that it is written to primarily a narrowly defined audience as it serves as a primer to orient the medical professional to healthcare informatics. All there is to know about healthcare informatics is not covered in the limited number of pages provided to discuss this topic. This prompts the question: What are the information resources one looks at in terms of professional organizations, associations, and journals? Leading voices in terms of organizations, associations, and informatics specialist groups that are professionally recognized and respected as contributors to health informatics have been overlooked. Leading organizations such as the International Medical Informatics Association and Health Informatics Forum would be valuable resources on the most current issues and topics related to health informatics. A few published refereed journals that address current developments in health informatics and disseminate best practice in primary care informatics include Informatics in Primary Care and Information Technology in Nursing, the British Journal of Healthcare Computing and Information Management (BJHC&IM), Health Informatics Europe, and Medical Informatics & the Internet in Medicine.
Assessment: The way in which the authors apply health informatics to clinical practice is incredibly interesting. This is a useful book that will benefit readers from varied backgrounds as an introduction to the basics of healthcare information technology.