Sunday, October 9, 2011
Trends That Emerge Within Health Information Systems
The present material will identify and present some of the most important emerging trends in health information systems. Consequently, the text will discuss about Web services and semantic Web, Web 2.0, and HealthGrid. The web services and semantic web encompass the software components or applications that interact when using XML and Internet technologies. Their major function is to express information and application logic and to transport information as messages. With a platform-neutral interfacing and communication mechanism and a wide infrastructure support in terms of servers and development environments, Web services offer the benefits of loose coupling, ease of integration and of accessibility. In the last decades, Web services technology has evolved towards the development of a set of standards for publishing, discovering and composing independent services in an open network. Two principle approaches can be applied to Web services: the procedural approach and the document-oriented one. The former lays emphasis on bottom-up applications. The latter, on the other hand, resorts to top-down business exchanges, trying to describe in detail the elements of the respective exchange. The semantic Web is an extension of the World Wide Web, offering a united approach to knowledge management and information processing. It resorts to standards in order to render machine-interpretable information. The interaction between computer and the human factor is maximized by means of semantic Web technology because it gives the contents well-defined meanings. A second emerging trend in health information systems is to use Web 2.0 technologies, which refer to applications and services that are web-oriented and which use the Internet as a working platform. The distinct feature of this type of technology resides in the fact that the Internet is used with its unique characteristics and relying on its strengths, without trying to adapt the Internet to a particular application. Within Health 2.0 are incorporated concepts such as telemedicine, electronic medical records and the use of the Internet by patients themselves. Message boards, blogs and other more advanced systems are forms of communication used in the Web 2.0 technology. The use of HealthGrid emerged as another important trend in health information systems. HealthGrid represents a virtual environment in which medical data is stored and made accessible to various participants in the healthcare systems such as physicians, healthcare centers, allied professions, administrators and patients. Medical, health and clinical records maintained by disparate hospitals, drug companies and health organizations can be gathered and shared through HealthGrid. Among the benefits ensured by this software platform one can enumerate: - real-time and remote access to large amount of medical and clinical data, irrespective of the original healthcare setting from which they were acquired; - complete history of patients no matter where the care was provided; - real-time monitoring of trial results and research outcomes. These are only three of the trends emerging within health information systems. Others would be Voice over IP, evidence-based health informatics, and using e-health models and services.