Informatics is the discipline of People, Information and Technology and refers to enabling users to interact efficiently and effectively with appropriate technologies in order to improve the availability of quality information for planning, decision-making and policy formulation at all levels of an organization.
Health Informatics is a specific domain of Informatics which may be described as the appropriate use of information technology in the management of health-related data, information and knowledge in order to improve individual outcomes of care and the health status of the population. Thus, Health Informatics is a critical enabler for health system improvements and health sector modernization and transformation.
The application of Health Informatics refers to the design, development, planning, implementation, maintenance and evaluation of technology-based systems including:
- Patient-centric information systems such as Electronic Health Records
- Public Health Surveillance Systems
- Adapted classification systems using standardized terminologies and coding such as the International Classification of Diseases and Health Related Conditions (ICD)
- Clinical Decision Support Systems
- Digital imaging systems
- Patient monitoring systems
- Telehealth technologies for remote patient care
- Mobile devices and other Internet-based technologies for involving patients in their own health care
- Methodologies and applications for data analytics including data mining
- Data warehouses and online data repositories
- Corporate information systems for supporting healthcare such as financial, human resource and inventory management systems
E-Health refers to the use of various Information & Communication Technologies for improving the flow of information in order to support the delivery of health services and the management of health systems. Hence, E-Health and Information & Communication Technologies are key enablers for achieving and measuring Universal Health Coverage and Universal Access.
The Mandate of Health Informatics
To foster improved public health and clinical practice and the health of communities through the use of sound informatics principles and practices as applied to the management of health-related data, information and knowledge.
Key roles and functions
- Lead the development of a strategic plan for National Health Information System strengthening including the prioritization and selection of cost effective e-Health solutions for the health sector.
- Direct and provide periodic reports on the implementation of the National Health Information System Strengthening & E-Health Strategy.
- Develop the tools and conduct the evaluation of existing and new electronic information systems in health care.
- Direct and coordinate the implementation of technology systems in health.
- Guide and participate in the development of the policies and legislation regarding the Protection of Personal Health Information.
- Provide advice on the design and implementation of enterprise-level technology solutions to meet the emerging information needs of the health sector and in accordance with the National Strategy.
- Identify specific training in key areas of Health Informatics for health sector employees to include: basic concepts, systems development, systems evaluation and developing user requirements.
- Advise on all information systems and related technologies to be introduced to the public sector through international donor funding or other mechanisms.
- Direct the adoption of appropriate technologies through standardization of the use of the mobile phone, web technologies, the Intranet, audio and video conferencing and e-Learning.
- Guide research and research and development in health information and ICT.
- E-Health Pilot Project
The E-Health Pilot Project involves the implementation of the national electronic Patient Administration System (ePAS), the ICT infrastructure of the National Health Information Network (NHIN) and supporting initiatives. The ePAS represents the foundational module of the national Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. The Goal of the project is to strengthen the National Health Information System (NHIS) to support improved patient care outcomes and the provision of quality health information for action. The ePAS is the Jamaica customisation and enhancement of the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), GNU Health. This has been facilitated by a Memorandum of Understanding between the MOH and the lead entity of the GNU Health Community, GNU Solidario, which is a not-for-profit organization based in Spain. The use of FOSS provides a cost-effective national solution.
The major benefits include universal access to the record at any facility a patient attends, improvements in the quality, timeliness and completeness of health reports to stakeholders and improvements in personal health information protection through controlled and audited access to each patient’s record. These will be achieved through the establishment of a single electronic health record for each individual with a system-generated unique identifier consolidated to a central database for national reporting for surveillance, mortality and other purposes.
The ePAS will be expanded in a modular manner over time such that a Comprehensive Health Information Platform (CHIP) will be established.
The Project seeks to demonstrate a “Proof of Concept” using a cluster of related health facilities. Therefore, the Project is being implemented in the Parish of Saint Elizabeth at the Santa Cruz Centre of Excellence, Black River Hospital and Saint Elizabeth Health Department. The cost of the Project is JMD 80M and the National Health Fund has approved the funding. The expected completion date is March 2016.
- Laboratory Information System (LIS) Project
This Project has been funded by the CDC/PEPFAR with the objective of improving the efficiency and quality of the Laboratory Services at the National Public Health Laboratory. It involves the use of the Disa*Lab software which enables the transmission of verified lab results to workstations established in clinical areas at the Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee Hospitals as well as the Comprehensive Health Centre. The implementation is approximately 95% completed.