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The Importance of Information and Systems

By Jorge Azpiri López - TecSalud
Director of Development and Expansion Projects


By Jorge Azpiri | Director of Development and Expansion Projects - Tue, 03/07/2023 - 15:00

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Information is a highly precious non-renewable resource, so important that its quality allows competitive advantages, sometimes transcendental, for governments, companies, people, and institutions, among others. To understand it better, it is enough to adhere to the definition of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE): Information is "the communication or acquisition of knowledge that allows us to expand or specify on a certain subject." Another definition could guide us a little more in this regard: "Information is the name by which an organized set of processed data, that constitutes a message that changes the state of knowledge of the subject or system that receives said message, is known."

The importance of the information lies in the fact that it provides us with the tools for decision-making, but for decisions to be of quality, the information must have two fundamental characteristics: it must be accurate and timely. The qualities of being true and on time is what gives a competitive advantage, because otherwise, the decisions will be incorrect or outdated. The characteristic of information as a non-renewable resource is because it is linked to time; every second that passes will never return. When we do not have information to make decisions, intuition or experience take a preponderant value.

This is where it is important to talk about information systems or informatics in general, particularly in systems related to health. Due to the characteristics of each type of industry, the architecture of a system is fundamental, and, thus, we have the base platforms, such as the Back Office and the Hospital Information System (HIS) that work by carrying administrative, medical and financial information. Working in parallel, we have communication platforms that allow the interaction of diagnostic systems with data and images, under security and communication protocols, and among these, there are facilitating systems, accelerators, integrators, and others. So far, we are talking mainly about process standardization, where we exploit information for decision-making in a very limited way.

In the end, all these activities of administrative, financial, biostatistical, and human interaction, among others, must be expressed as indicators that allow the organization to have sensitive information in a timely manner, and transcend to the most important thing that any information system should provide: the appropriate, informed decision-making. That is, being able to make those decisions anywhere in the world in an agile manner. This is part of what adds  value to any information system.

With these ideas of information and systems, we could comment that in Mexico — and not necessarily in other countries — the way in which private hospitals and health systems operate is different from the public system. They work among themselves with marked differences, which makes it very difficult for an information system provider to offer a standardized option, so that when it becomes necessary to individualize each one, it becomes inefficient and unaffordable.

On the other hand, in Mexico, the economy of the "formal" private system, that is, more than 50 beds, certified and with a predominance of third-party payers, is limited, making it unattractive for large companies that provide information systems. For these reasons, among others, custom-made systems stand out, making the ability to provide information and decision-making deficient and limited.

Another important reflection is the risk of intuitive decisions. If we do not have adequate information to run the informed decision-making process, we must work through intuition and experience, which can be an advantage in case of having executives or senior management with such skills, but unfortunately, most of the senior management in the private health sector are still on the learning curve to reach senior level.

The standardization of processes, which is another important function of the information systems base, must raise the quality and safety, both medically and of service, giving competitive advantages to the patient, their relatives, the treating physician, the person responsible for settling the account, and to the same associates who work in the health system. This allows them greater agility and security in the dispatch of their service, which at the end of the day, is what the health industry aims for: a better service.

Let us remember that, for a doctor, having the correct information in a timely manner and anywhere, allows him to make important decisions that can have a significant impact on the final result of his treatment plan, raising the quality of medical care and customer service.

Likewise, for senior management, having online and correlated administrative, financial and biomedical information, allows them to make important decisions that can directly impact profitability and strategic differentiation, achieving their objectives in a more agile and accurate way.

An extremely important topic that is sometimes unrecognized beyond the exploitation of information for decision-making is the interrelation of information in its various biomedical, administrative and financial variables, but in an integrated way. That is, the availability of information throughout the service chain that allows any of the actors in the system to consult it in its entirety, with transparency and honesty. This will generate, as a value add, a scenario in which the health professionals who attend to a patient within the system will easily and intuitively know all the clinical information in an integral way, thus allowing a very complete approach to the patient.

In conclusion, we must say that a system must standardize and systematize processes, providing accurate and timely information for proper decision-making.

Finally, with all the complexities of the health industry, we need to understand that information is power that must provide us with the ability to differentiate ourselves, because in the end, our duty is to transform information into knowledge.

Photo by:   Jorge Azpiri López

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