f. Medical Information System--(known also as automated hospital
information system, patient care system, patient information system, or order entry and
communications system). A medical information system can track a patient from
admission to discharge. It also permits outpatient clinics and physician offices to
communicate with inpatient areas and other services.
MEDICAL INFORMATION VS. DEPARTMENTAL SYSTEMS
a. Degree of Intercommunication. A variety of computer systems with varying
degrees of intercommunication and integration co-exist in the hospital setting.
Departmental systems, like those in radiology or pharmacy, process the information for
which they are responsible, but also have a limited capacity for sharing information.
Departmental systems contribute less to the other departments' need for information
than hospital-wide systems. The medical information system, a comprehensive data
system for patient care and hospital management, provides direct communication
among all departments and wards.
b. A Medical Information System Permits Hospital-Wide Communication.
A pharmacy department's computer can print labels for a drug order, but first the orders
have to come from the nursing stations, and be entered on the computer one at a time.
A hospital-wide medical information system allows a doctor, nurse, or clerk to enter ALL
patient orders at a computer terminal on a nursing floor. These orders can specify not
only medications, but also x-rays, diet, lab work, and so forth. The computer can store
all the orders and automatically send instructions to the departments to carry them out:
x-rays in the radiology department, diet orders in the dietary department, lab work in the
laboratory department, and drug labels in the pharmacy department. Therefore, a
hospital-wide medical information system has the capability of receiving, storing,
distributing, and reproducing, on demand, all the information relevant to a patient's care
throughout the hospital.
COMPONENTS OF A MEDICAL INFORMATION SYSTEM
The medical information system is integrated throughout the hospital to permit a
two-way flow of information among all major departments. Components of a medical
information system include one or more computers located in the hospital, or hooked up
to the hospital by phone lines. Terminals, usually television screens, located throughout
the hospital, permit users to enter and retrieve information, such as, lab results, time
and dose of last medication. The screen comes equipped with a keyboard and
sometimes a light pen. The screen, keyboard, and light pen combination are known as
the video matrix terminal (VMT) system. The television screen displays lists of items,
such as, lab tests. A specific item is selected by pointing the light pen at the desired
word (or phrase) and pressing a switch on the barrel of the pen. Using the light pen, a
physician can select the specific patient, and then "write" a full set of medical orders (lab
work, medications, x-ray, diet, activity, vital signs, and so forth). The computer then
stores the orders and sends appropriate documents (lab requisitions, pharmacy labels,