Information systems support and promote patient care and the entire healthcare system. Information technology and patient care technology enable a nurse practitioner to utilize new information, handle individual patient’s needs. The medical practitioner can also assess the efficiency of patient care technology necessary for a particular field of practice. The medical practitioners should be able to select and utilize information systems to analyze programs of patient care and the entire care system. The information systems offer a mechanism to implement budget and productivity instruments, practice information systems and support of decisions, and use online based education or intervention instruments to support and promote patient care. The medical practitioners are expected to be proficient in the utilization of information technology and implement quality improvement programs (Opiyo, 2012).
The nursing practitioner should be able to analyze and communicate the essential elements required for the selection, utilization and evaluation of patient care and health care information technology. In this research, these essential elements will be highlighted. More focus will be put on the criteria for selection of reputable healthcare sites, identification and recommendation of useful sites, education of the patients on the key requirements for a reliable website and the tools that help patients obtain credible information. The benefits, barriers, safety and security provisions for personal health records will be discussed.
Criteria for a Reputable Healthcare Website
When searching for information on health online, an individual may start from a trusted site, but after using various links, he/she may be forwarded to unknown sites which sometimes cannot be trusted. There are guidelines which aid in identifying reputable healthcare websites. Firstly, the health information provided should be accurate. Accuracy can be determined by ensuring that the materials cited are reliable, there are no grammatical and spelling errors, and the information on the site can be verified by another source; the provision of the references and their reliability is critical. Secondly, authority must be factored in. The publisher, his/ her credentials and details should be known; the contact information and a physical address should be available. The domain name is critical in detecting whether it is a personal page or one supported by an organization.
The objectivity of the information should be assessed; moreover, it should not be biased and concentrate on one point of view. One should know whether the organization sponsoring the website is a pharmaceutical company or a non-profit institution. An individual should determine if the information being read is a form of advertisement. It is essential to know the currency of the webpage, the date when it was created, last updates, active links and the availability of more recent research on the topic. Finally, the coverage of the information should be complete and the sources of additional information should be provided (Lee, Hoti, Hughes, & Emmerton, 2014).
Identification of Useful Websites
Diabetes management encompasses learning about the illness, making positive lifestyle decisions and working together with the health care providers. The websites have become a crucial source of information. However, obtaining the most recent and reliable health information is essential in making choices that promote health and avoid possibly dangerous products and practices. Recommended websites can be utilized to enhance knowledge, improve communication with the medical practitioners and make critical lifestyle choices that enable one to live well with the illness and decrease the long-term health risks associated with diabetes (Kaufman, 2012). Generally, government (.gov), recognized professional organizations (.org) and educational websites (.edu) have reliable health information. The following websites are useful for the diabetes patients: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Diabetes Translation http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/, American Association of Diabetes Educators http://www.diabeteseducator.org, and the Joslin Diabetes Center: http://www.joslin.harvard.edu/ (Corritore, Wiedenbeck, Kracher, & Marble, 2012).
Reasons for Recommendation
The above-recommended websites are funded by the government (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Diabetes Translation), the professional organizations (the American Association of Diabetes Educators) and the research organization (the Joslin Diabetes Center). They are committed to provision of objective and trustworthy health information on diabetes. The content offered is evidence-based and founded on the best medical research knowledge available. The information provided on these sites is approved by medical experts, they are reviewed and updated on a regular basis, they are unbiased and they are not commercial since they do not attempt to promote any product. The aim of these sites is not to replace the information or advice offered by doctors and they do not demand for payment for a complete emailed diagnosis (Mahesh & Crow, 2012).
Teaching Patients How to Locate Reliable Websites
Patients have to be provided with clear guidelines to find reliable and trusted healthcare information sources on websites; they are faced with key challenges of making informed healthcare choices. Therefore, the patients should be aided by medical practitioners in locating the useful sites that will provide information that will aid in conversations with their caregivers. They should identify the administrator and sponsor of the site, the purpose of the websites and the source of the health information provided. The basis of the health information is also critical. The material available on the sites should also be reviewed by professionals in that field.
The patients should check the currency of the material available on the sites. The website’s policy on connecting to other sites should be evaluated because unless it is strict, the patients should not assume that the links to other sites provided are reliable. The patient should know how the site manages personal information. Credible sites asking for personal data should explain how the information provided would be utilized. Therefore, the patients should read the privacy policies and not sign up for things that they do not comprehend completely. Finally, the patients should be taught to pay attention to the site’s management of interactions with the users. The user should be able to contact the website owner in case of problems, questions or in need of feedback (Chang & Kim, 2010).
Reliable Tools for Healthcare Education
The Internet is a powerful force in our lives. However, a number of sites are concerned solely with promoting their services and products. Thus, there is the need to urge the patients to focus on the source of the material. Government websites such as Healthfinder.org are a valuable source since they provide connections to numerous government and non-profit health associations. Another tool is the Quick Guide to Healthy Living which gives advice on healthy lifestyle. This site provides various tools, for example, individual health calculators, recipes and menu planners and an elaborate list of questions patients can present to physicians on appointments (Longhurst & Landa, 2012).
Safety and Security Provisions for Personal Health Records (PHR)
Personal health records can improve the efficiency of the healthcare system and provide support to the patients. Most organizations such as Google and Microsoft are providing clients with personalized record keeping and other support for health-related matters. With the rapidly increasing popularity of the PHRs, a critical analysis of the ethical, legal and regulatory issues should be done. Security issues arise in programs demanding the storage of personal health information. Robust authentication and access limits must be available in the health information settings bearing in mind the sensitivity of the information at hand. Striking a balance between data protection and ease of utilization is the biggest challenge (Li, 2013). The medical practitioners must act in line with their legal and professional obligations. To create and maintain trust between the physician and patient, the latter must be convinced that their sensitive personal data will remain confidential. Maintaining confidentiality is a key factor in the provision of the best standard of care. The patients who comprehend that their data will be confidential have a higher likelihood of furnishing the physicians with full and accurate health data hence enhancing better treatment (Lewis, Baxter, & Pouder, 2013). The physicians can only disclose the patient’s health data when the caregiver gives consent and it is required for a lawful purpose; In addition, disclosure may also occur where it is required and allowed under the law.
Benefits of PHR and Barriers to PHR Adoption
Personal health records have numerous potential benefits. The most significant is the enhanced access to vital health material, education and data; this will promote effective treatment of diseases and improve management of health care facilities. They also offer a continuous link between the patient and caregivers hence altering the encounters from episodic to continuous thus significantly limiting time to address issues that arise. The PHRs have a potential of reducing the management costs of chronic diseases, decrease medication costs and reduce wellness program costs. It is especially topical in the management of chronic diseases where the costs are usually very high (Bates & Wells, 2012).
The barriers of PHRs adoption can be environmental or individual. The unavailability of ubiquitous electronic records utilization poses the biggest environmental barrier, Furthermore, the economic and market forces are barriers to adoption. Most vendors providing PHRs have not achieved financial success, many products and organizations do not exist anymore. This undervalues the business climate for development. Other barriers are legal issues of the caregivers and privacy concerns of people. The consumers have not yet completely comprehended the success issues particular to the PHRs; unless individuals understand the interface, adoption will be hindered. Instilling confidence and trust between the providers and consumers is proving to be a challenge. The consumers are not fully convinced that the information provided is purely for the individual’s benefit.
Patients’ PHR Usefulness and Hindrance to Healthcare Providers
The personal health information can help the care providers in a number of ways. The providers have access to more information which enables them to make better decisions. This will enhance the sharing of medical records. Additionally, the patients become more involved in their health and their therapy, which is relieving for providers. Finally, the electronic communication between providers and consumers frees providers from the limitations of telephone or face-to-face conversation and enhances the efficiency of the personal contacts.
The PHRs can also hinder the providers from executing their duties appropriately; they are more cautious about the legal implications of the records. For example, the courts might implement negligence standards in situations where the providers utilize inaccurate patient-provided information to make decisions about care. While the patients demand the protections of their personal health data, aggressive protection measures hinders PHR access by consumers and impedes optimal healthcare (Palen, 2013).
The healthcare providers are tasked with the analysis, selection, utilization and evaluation of healthcare information systems. The providers should ensure that the patients access reputable and reliable sources which will promote their health, and the criteria for the selection of the sites should be strictly adhered to in order to obtain accurate information. The providers should identify and recommend only useful sites to patients. Proper education of the patients should also be provided to enable the selection of the reliable sites and tools for health information; moreover, the personal health records should also be adopted to improve health care. This should be done by elimination of the potential barriers of adoption.