The healthcare needs of the Americans are growing and even becoming more complex, posing major challenges for the industry. There is an increase in the aging population, leading to more work for the health care providers. It is expected that the future will even witness an increase in the workload for the care providers. The challenges are leading to evaluations of novel models for the management of population health, mostly leveraging information technology tools. The tools and resources are applicable towards the end of achieving the efficiency, scale, and quality that will be non-negotiable in the near future. The importance of information technology in population health is huge.
The most effective way of providing services suited to the needs of the community is to perform an assessment of the needs. Data collection is critical for the assessment. With IT applications and tools, the potential for collection and analysis of data will be amplified (Selanikio, 2012). A major impact of IT in population health is to allow more effective analysis of data for decision making on which quality measures to embrace to cater for those needs. Following the collection and analysis of the data, “continuous health” is promoted by the use of the novel and innovative technological applications (Alavi et al., 2016). The reality is that the process does not stop at the point where the needs of the community are understood. Technology promotes and continues to impact on diagnostics in population health. Information technology is responsible for the innovations in health care, which are driving diagnostic information (Kraft, 2011). With the powerful tools and apps, the information is brought up to the patient’s bedside.
To achieve the impact of IT in population health, Friedman and Parrish, II (2010) suggested the collection and maintenance of population health record (PopHR). With the record, it is possible to establish the needs of the different patient populations and use the most appropriate approaches to dealing with the needs of a healthy community. Standards in place for the implementation of the technological tools and apps to provide quality health care are critical. The positive impact is achievable where IT tools are implemented through the different stages of care, primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Continuous Health is achieved where there is in place immediate as well as uninterrupted connection and interaction promoting continued proactive health care. It is based on ensuring that population health is guaranteed regardless of where the patient is, the time the care is needed and the way the care is provided.
Information technology has the potential for ensuring that time or space does not limit health care. It is possible for the health care to be taken to those in need of care wherever they are and at whatever time they need it. This is because technology can be taken to where the person is rather than the person going to the place of technology (Brown, Patrick, & Pasupathy, 2012). Health informatics operate across the complete spectrum of the when, where, and how of health care provision. Nonetheless, for this to be achieved, it is critical to have changes and reforms in all aspects of the ecosystem of the healthcare sector. Hence, it is critical for the health care providers to be organized around provision of safe, effective, and quality care for the various kinds of populations targeted by the care processes.
There are major cost implications of the use of IT in health care. The IT ecosystem has been identified out of the need to cut the cost of population health. Time and money are two elements of IT that have been investigated in research. Population health management necessitates the use of information and data to close the gap in health care provided to diverse patient populations. With technology, there is something known as “speed to value,” which means that the technology must be fast enough to provide care for a huge portion of the population as possible (Kellermann & Jones, 2013). Electronic documentation, as well as workflow, is enhanced through technology, leading to achievement of the goal of speed to value.
It is critical to understand that the needs of the different populations differ. Hence, health care informatics cannot be implemented in a general perspective (Kellermann & Jones, 2013). It should be adapted to the unique needs of diverse patient populations. For example, the needs of the aged who are suffering from chronic conditions differ from the needs of a young population focusing on preventive health care. Additionally, the sort of data needed for the different populations is expected to differ. Hence, when implementing the health information technology, it is important that such factors are put into consideration.
Health information technology has emerged as a trend that is endeavoring to close in the gap in provision of population health. The technology is the basis for the achievement of continuous care which is critical within the modern environment where health needs of diverse populations have become more complex. Therefore, the application of IT in population health is aimed at achieving the efficiency and quality in the near future.