The healthcare community is currently embroiled in a struggle between two types of treatment strategies – those that singularly emphasize an individual's health and those that have more widespread public health goals not confined to one particular patient.
Although overarching trends in healthcare typically are used to help inform physicians as to best treatments, the field is increasingly relying on more individualized treatments, buoyed by an increased reliance on personalized medicine.
As genetic testing and genomic sequencing because more affordable, a greater segment of the population will have access to these tests, which sift through a patient's genetic background to determine whether he or she is predisposed to certain conditions.
At the same time, physicians are currently in the midst of overhauling their treatment and diagnosis coding sets from ICD-9 to ICD-10, which is far more detailed in the information it provides than its predecessor. This is no more evident than when one considers the sheer volume of new codes being integrated into existing care systems - 55,000 more diagnostic codes and 76,000 more procedural codes.
Many physicians have expressed frustration at the costs that come with implementing these new codes, many of which are incredibly detailed with the information they provide. The irony is that more specific codes provide the healthcare community with an ability to more easily spot trends occurring throughout the population.
"The new coding system will also provide a treasure trove of data for public health researchers as they try to understand patient behavior and attitudes about risk taking," InformationWeek Healthcare editor Paul Cerrato wrote April 30. "Of course, some physicians will object to the fact that they now have to not only provide care for their patients, but also take on this public health role."
As healthcare providers restructure their IT systems and alter their procedural techniques, they may need to solicit a healthcare IT consulting service to help meet both individual and community healthcare goals.