Database Characteristics and the Language of Health Information –

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Database Characteristics and the Language of Health Information
Case Assignment
1.    For this Case Assignment, you will be assuming the role of a lead person on a technology review committee at a multifacility regional hospital. Your committee has been tasked with evaluating the plausibility and possible selection of a new Health Information System that will enable the hospital to electronically collect and share patient medical history information among its various hospital centers and departments.
2.    Currently, each hospital center maintains paper copies and files of patient records, which are separately managed and stored at each facility. Few of the electronically based information systems are integrated between the various centers and locations.
3.    To add to the challenge, the CIO informs you that most of the members on the committee have limited experience with information systems and databases. However, the CIO is aware that you are studying Health Informatics, so she has asked you to help familiarize the committee with fundamental concepts related to database systems and relevant health information standards.
4.    Specifically, the CIO (and your professor) request that you prepare a brief overview of the following:
•    Fundamentals of database characteristics and structure.
•    Various types of medical data and information records relevant to this project.
•    The importance of uniform terminology, coding, and standardization of the data.
•    Various information standards and organizations that may be applicable, and possibly required, for this project.
1.    In addition, search the Internet and find three healthcare information systems vendors that offer electronic medical record products. Compare and contrast the functions and features of each product and barriers to implementation (financial, physical, and personnel).
2.    Remember, your committee mostly comprises clinicians and other healthcare practitioners. Accordingly, they do not have a great deal of technical knowledge related to information systems.
3.    Submit your assignment by the end of this module.
Assignment Expectations
1.    Your references and citations should be consistent with a particular formatting style such as APA.
2.    Your response should be based on reliable and scholarly material, such as peer-reviewed articles, white papers, technical papers, etc. Do not include information from non-scholarly materials such as wikis, encyclopedias, or (or similar websites).
3.    Your response should incorporate the outcomes of the module with the requirements of this assignment.
Module 3 – Background
Database Characteristics and the Language of Health Information
Presentations and Required Reading
•    Carefully read through the following material, which describes the fundamentals of databases, and their structure and function. Fundamental Database Characteristics1
•    Eric McCreath provides a well-illustrated and concise overview of database fundamentals in the following presentation: Database Basics Presentation2
•    The following slide presentation identifies various types of medical data and records. Presentation by Peter Szolovits, MIT (February, 2002). Nature of Medical Data3
•    There are many standards guiding the format and use of healthcare-related information. The following is a comprehensive list and review of these standards. It is not necessary to memorize every one of them. Instead, just get a sense for the vast number of standards that exist. Pay particular attention to those standards that reference Health Level Seven (HL7) and Unified Medical Language System (UMLS). Review of Healthcare Information Standards4
•    The following is a list of Standards Organizations. Standards Development Organizations5
•    Read through this overview of the Unified Medical Language System. UMLS6
•    Jiang Bo provides a good overview of Health Level Seven (HL7) in this presentation. HL77
Sources for Presentation Material Referenced Above
1Beaumont, R. (2000). Database and Database Management Systems. Retrieved from Fundamental Database Characteristics
2McCreath, E. (2002). Lecture Notes for COMP1200: Perspectives on Computing, Information Systems Database Basics. Retrieved from Database Basics Presentation
3Szolovits, P. (2003). Nature of Medical Data. MIT, Intro to Medical Informatics: Lecture-2. Retrieved from
4Blair, J. S. (1999). An Overview of Healthcare Information Standards, IBM Healthcare Solutions. Retrieved from Review of Healthcare Information Standards
5Health Level Seven: Links to Standards Developers. Retrieved from Standards Development Organizations
6Unified Medical Language Fact Sheet. (2003). National Library of Medicine: Office of Communications and Public Liaison. Retrieve dfrom
7Bo, J. (2003). Health Level Seven Overview Presentation. Bioinformatics Institute. Retrieved from HL7
Module 3 – Home
Database Characteristics and the Language of Health Information
Modular Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this module, the student will be able to satisfy the following outcomes:
•    Case
o    Describe fundamental database characteristics.
o    Describe various types of medical data and records associated with various health care disciplines.
o    Explain the importance of uniform standards for terminology and coding.
o    Identify various health information standards and standards organizations.
Module Overview
There is a need to describe healthcare concepts in a consistent manner. We as humans are able to assimilate, without confusion, many variations of descriptions. Computers, on the other hand, are very poor at recognizing concepts from inconsistent descriptions.
A preferred term is an agreed-upon short description of a concept, and a concept is the image created by the words that describe it. However, in some cases a definition of a concept may still be needed. This is because, too often, the wording of a preferred term means something different to different users.
A unique identifier (or code) for each concept is required. Anything would do, as long as it is unique and suitable. If a preferred term is used, its description should not be changed; however it does sometimes happen. Accordingly, a preferred term is generally not suitable as a code. In fact, words are not efficient ways to store identifiers in computers, as the computer may be required to store an identifier many times. Therefore, the code should be reasonably “compact,” preferably a “number” of some sort. Using a number is not an issue, because the computer can always display equivalent descriptive words that are seen by the users.
Coding is the process of matching a healthcare entity to a term in a terminology and assigning it a code. The terminology may be called a coding system. Sometimes rules are offered to improve the accuracy of coding. These rules are commonly known as standards.
In this module, we will explore the language of Health Informatics. We will examine database fundamentals and types of health information data and records, and explore standards used to ensure the information is understood across various systems and disciplines.
This module covers a large amount of area and material. Do not get overwhelmed by trying to dig too deeply into the technical aspects. Indeed, each area can be an entire field of technical study of its own. Instead, focus on the concepts, application, and purpose surrounding structured data and standards as they relate to healthcare information.
Module 3 – Outcomes
Database Characteristics and the Language of Health Information
•    Module
o    Identify the language of Health Informatics, data types, coding, and standards.
o    Compare and contrast their difference between healthcare disciplines, and how they can be integrated.
•    Case
o    Describe fundamental database characteristics.
o    Describe various types of medical data and records associated with various health care disciplines.
o    Explain the importance of uniform standards for terminology and coding.
o    Identify various health information standards and standards organizations.

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