A patchwork of laws provided narrow privacy protections for selected health data and certain keepers of that data." (Administrative Simplification in the Health Care Industry) Therefore, new technologies such as relational databases have simplified the data gathering and maintenance processes of all types of healthcare related data like the physician information process. It is not unheard of today for healthcare and insurance providers matching or 'sinking data' on a monthly or quarterly basis because of the availability of better communication capabilities as well as compatible database comparison processes.
Even the doctors themselves have access to providers' systems and databases today. Through automatic telephone systems, business to business Internet portals, and tape or disk delivery processes, all of a physician's personal, office and patient information can be updated easily. In many cases, the entire process including security and confirmation is a completely hands free operation. In other words, without human intervention, providers are kept up-to-date in an efficient and cost effective manner. As a result, the once traditional directories that became out of date as soon as they were printed have been replaced by very accurate databases full of information that can be easily be converted into any medium including: insurance plan participation directories, referral confirmation lists, distribution reports and/or results, employer/employee physician selection forms for new patients or even office contact lists for the annual profit party.
Through database technologies, physician information is more accurate and use of that data has become unlimited. An excellent example on how the industry has become more efficient with physician information because of database technology is the typical Internet web site portal for employees. Today, employees literally can go online and chose their doctor, OB/GYN or dentist and a few days later that member will receive the updated card(s) in the mail complete with physician information and co pay deductible. "This expansion of the RelayHealth program to additional Blue Shield network providers and members comes as market demand grows for solutions that improve cost-efficiencies and convenience in healthcare delivery, while protecting patient privacy - as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)." (HMO Patients Can Contact Their Doctors Electronically as Blue Shield of California Expands Online Communication Services) the cards are often a product of robotic systems that have little to no human intervention.
One of the newer breakthroughs associated with the database process is new front end connection possibilities. The language to retrieve database information such as SQL continues to become more user friendly. Database usage used to be only for the computer nerd with the pocket protector. Today, however, anyone capable of understanding just the basics can run an inquiry from a desktop using Microsoft ACCESS and in most large or technology proficient organizations will be able to acquire physician or any other data they are cleared to see from the mainframe without having twenty years of programming experience. As it gets to the point that any employee will have the ability to retrieve information from a database, associated programming costs will continue to fall proportionately. With that being said, not only physician information, but information as a whole will become easier to maintain and utilize because of the breakthroughs in database technologies.
In conclusion, this report was an analysis of how the healthcare and insurance industries have adopted relational databases and other related applications software technology to manage physician information. The United States healthcare system is a compilation of insurance companies, health plans, physicians, hospitals, clinics, consumers, governmental agencies and public health programs. These organizations strive to become more efficient and therefore cost effective. The entire healthcare system has begun to adopt Information Technology as an answer for cutting back and stopping the bleeding.
Administrative Simplification in the Health Care Industry. Ed. HIPAA. Health and Human Services. 23 Oct. 2004 http://www.hipaa.com/.
HMO Patients Can Contact Their Doctors Electronically as Blue Shield of California Expands Online Communication Services. Ed. Unknown. October 29, 2003. Relay Health. 23 Oct. 2004 http://www.relayhealth.com/rh/general/news/newsRecent/news49.aspx.
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