Health informatics as (Conrick, 2006) sees it is the field that concerns itself with the cognitive, information processing, and communication tasks of medical practice, education, and research including the information science and technology to support those tasks. It deals with the resources, devices, and methods required to optimize acquisition, storage, and retrieval. Health informatics tools include computers as well as clinical guidelines, formal medical terminologies, and information and communication systems. More broadly speaking, its emphasis is on clinical and biomedical applications with the added possibility of the integrating these clinical components either among themselves or to more administrative-type health information systems. HIT is defined by the Department of Health and Human Services as a “comprehensive management of medical information and its secure exchange between healthcare consumers and providers” (Department of Health and Human Services, 2008).
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The recent advances in Health Information Technology (HIT) have transformed hospitals, medical centers, and clinics paper filing management into Electronic medical record systems (EMR). (Protti et al. describes Electronic medical records as a medical record in digital format. The National Alliance for Health Information Technology describes electronic medical records as “an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one healthcare organization.” (Hinman and Ross, 2010).
For decades healthcare industries around the globe have invested significant portions of their health information technology budgets into acquiring best-of-breed clinical technologies in order to have the best tools to effectively and efficiently heal and treat patients. The UAE healthcare industry has kept in pace with the advancements in this area; however, the infrastructure of HIT in healthcare industries worldwide lags years, and sometimes decades, behind other industries such as the banking and logistics industries. ƒŸ information like this requires a source to prove its credibility.
In recent efforts to improve healthcare quality several countries around the world have proposed healthcare reforms through information technology while emphasizing the concept of electronic health records. Electronic health record (EHR) as (Protti et al., 2009) sees it refers to an individual patient’s medical record in digital format. EHR systems coordinate the storage and retrieval of individual records with the aid of computers, which are usually accessed on a computer, often over an internal network. While most of the literature does not distinguish between the concepts of the electronic medical record and the electronic health record, (Hinman and Ross, 2010) explain EHR as “an electronic record of the range of services received by a single patient within his or her lifetime from various providers and across a series of institutions”. They further describe the electronic health record as containing “health-related information on an individual that conforms to nationally recognized interoperability standards and that can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff across more than one healthcare organization”.
The purpose of this paper is to research and assess the key factors for the successful introduction of a new healthcare management software program called (eCare) in all hospitals and clinics across the UAE. The paper will aim to identify the target market, analyze the current key competitors, define the product’s competitive advantage, and evaluate and propose solutions to overcome its major weaknesses.
UAE Healthcare Industry background
The Healthcare sector in the United Arab Emirates is divided into 3 main sectors: Government Hospitals, ministry Hospitals, and Private Hospitals; government hospitals are governed by the emirate’s government and funded by each emirate separately. Ministry hospitals are governed by the UAE federation and funded by the ministry of health for all its hospitals across the seven emirates. Finally, the private hospitals are funded through their own administrations. All these hospitals in the end follow the rules and guidelines of the ministry of health while maintaining all levels of control of its procedures and practices as long as it abides by the ministry’s health guidelines. ƒŸ can you provide a source for this info? The more sources the better.
eCare is an innovative information management system based heavily on developing electronic health records and emphasizing health information exchange across the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Our target market is the whole UAE healthcare network which includes government, ministry, and private hospitals as well as medical centers, clinics, and pharmacies across the seven emirates.
We aim to provide the UAE with a simple, robust and flexible information management system that will facilitate the delivery of quality, integrated and cost effective healthcare services. eCare will facilitate the following objectives for the medical and administrative staff of the target market:
Health information exchange between all healthcare providers’ database systems in order to create a single medical record for each patient through his or her national ID as an identifier.
Online access to medical records, irrespective of patient’s location or service provider.
Real-time drug dispensing and automated labeling and drug interaction alerts. A synchronized system will help different physicians in even different healthcare facilities avoid prescribing drugs with interactional problems.
Real-time monitoring of disease trends in particular areas of the UAE and treatment outcomes.
Online database of external medical bills and services promoting a streamline and efficient billing system.
Online reports and statistics that cover the whole country as well as the ability to view detailed health reports for each emirate without giving away patient’s personal information (de-identification).
Online processing and reporting of lab results and real time imaging investigations.
Real-time appointment scheduling.
eCare standards aim to achieve functional and efficient outcomes in health information exchanges. Health Information Exchange (HIE) is defined as “the mobilization of healthcare information electronically across organizations within a region or community” (Overhage et al., 2005). HIE provides the capability to electronically move clinical information among healthcare information systems while maintaining the meaning of the information being exchanged. Healthcare communities worldwide continue to adopt new approaches to better serve an increasingly complex patient population.
eCare aims to improve safety of the patients, simplify service providers workflow through faster and more distributed access to medical information. Security of patients’ files is the number one priority in eCare standards that is why it emphasizes on the use of digital signatures and sophisticated file encryption methods so that hospital information systems can deliver EHRs to individual patients for personal health management purposes. Furthermore, eCare is a partner of the Health Level Seven standards organization which creates standards for the exchange, management and integration of electronic healthcare information. BOOK1REFERENCE
eCare is the first of its kind in offering a full featured system proposed for the UAE government. The healthcare industry is young in the country while resources and capital are available to invest in it; however few rival companies tried to propose similar solutions for the UAE government.
iCare Healthcare (iCHC) is a healthcare informatics and consulting firm assisting private and public sectors in establishing high standard healthcare systems. iCHC offers 14 different software solutions mainly focused on providers-payers solutions and not a fully fledged health information infrastructure that connects all healthcare providers in the country. The main concern of iCHC is to implement an electronic means for healthcare providers to connect with insurance companies, while eCare’s objectives cover important key elements of the healthcare industry in the UAE. (you need to provide a source for your information about iCare.
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Again, this is not a complete discussion of the competition. You are only going to mention one competitor? All the hospitals in the UAE must currently use some kind of medical record system?? What is it? You must compete with this and you must be able to convince all the hospitals to make the switch to your product – how will you do this?
Strategic competitive advantage
The cost of implementing electronic health records and a system capable of exchanging health information has been an obstacle to their widespread adoption. The cost of any system implementation is usually borne by the hospital administration and taken out of the annual budget. However, the future of EHR and Health Information exchange promises more rewards and benefits to the healthcare industry and to its main stakeholder, the society.
Implementation of a national infrastructure will require the government to financially support healthcare providers in order to overcome the cost issue. eCare will offer the government flexible and easy methods of payment that covers all aspects of the design, development, testing and rollout phase of the system as well as training the health care professionals and administrators to maximize the system utilization.
eCare is custom built to satisfy the needs of its customers as it can include several add-on options and can also be utilized to allow patients to view their personal medical records through simplified and secure interface.
eCare offers a variety of health information technology solutions which connects different stakeholder such as health care providers, patients and insurance companies to maximize the EHR utilization that is protected against theft, fraud and breaches through several levels of security measurements. eCare also improves the quality and reliability of health information through decreasing number of redundant data and minimizing medical errors.
“In the healthcare sector, interoperability is the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, to exchange medical data accurately, effectively, and consistently, and to use the information related to the patient that has been exchanged”. (Bailey et al., 2008).
Berler et al. illustrated that the integration of information systems represents one of the most urgent priorities of a Regional Healthcare Authority (RHA) in order to meet its clinical, organizational and managerial needs. Current practice shows that the most promising approach to achieve a Regional Healthcare Information System (RHIS) is to use a HL7 message-based communication system implemented by an asynchronous common communication infrastructure between healthcare sites (Berler et al., 2004).
Privacy and Security Issues
Data security and confidentiality of health information are two of the most important concerns in the application of electronic health technologies. Security access is a major concern as e-health technologies become available to a huge number of users spread across the whole country.
Taking the banking industry as an example; the sensitivity of our personal financial information ranks right up there with the privacy and security of our personal health information; however, people establish relationships not only with the branch they opened an account with, and shared all their personal information with but also with a global network of real-time financial information; therefore eCare is also able to take appropriate measurements such as firewall protection, data encryption, and password access can all be employed to secure patients personal and health information.
Just as in the banking system, eCare can also enable the patients to control their medical records as much as they handle their financial investments; one of the major issues of an interconnected healthcare infrastructure is security and privacy of the information and who is allowed to handle these confidential information and how to limit the impact of mishandling patients personal information; eCare will provide patients with an option to select the healthcare providers they want to share their personal information with. In case of online reports and statistics all patients’ personal information are kept anonymous.
The healthcare industry relies on data and information for every aspect of its delivery cycle it is hard to imagine healthcare without information technology to manage the unprecedented amount of information and data flowing in the healthcare industry.
Building a national HIT infrastructure with abilities of exchanging electronic health care records will result in tremendous improvements in several aspects of the healthcare industry in the UAE such as the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, quality, and safety of medical care delivery in the healthcare system.
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