The latest database technologies are widely used in healthcare information management departments’ operations, where they have to handle critical and confidential data sets in huge volumes. However, many HIM departments only have a fundamental knowledge of how this technology works and whether the available resources are competent enough to meet their growing requirements from time to time.

As the database technologies of our times are moving from merely data stores to more centralized digital HIM systems, it is essential for all healthcare information professionals who deal with it to have a fair understanding of HIM database technologies.  We can see many promising initiatives in the health industry as AHIMA lately introduced e-HIM, which mandates the HIM professionals to have some necessary database skills to handle their tasks. The most important question here is the essential skills and knowledge for an HIM professional to perform well. In this excerpt, we will try to explore those essentials in detail.

The changing database paradigm in HIM

Nowadays, HIM databases are not only storing healthcare data but also covers the credit card transactions, phone calls, cash withdrawals, and even the bank account details. With the finding that about 98,000 American citizens die from medication errors a year, the healthcare industry is also trying to adopt better usage of databases to track a wide range of data from medication prescriptions to laboratory tests and patient outcomes. The reason for this rapid shift is that until recently, most of the medical info was recorded on paper. The latest practices now make it mandatory to go with fully electronic transactions.

Health Information Management1

Lately, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced plans to build a pan-nation database of the patient EMRs (electronic medical records), which track the entire healthcare history of an individual from birth to death. To stay current and flexible with the healthcare information in digital format, AHIMA had also put forth a strategic plan as e-HIM, which demands practices that ensure the availability of the healthcare information anytime to facilitate quicker healthcare support and critical decision-making across healthcare facilities in the country.

Use of relational databases

Studies show that the most common and conventionally used databases in healthcare database management are relational databases. This can be effectively used to track the patient care information as clinical visits; treatments have undergone diagnoses, physical signs, medical history, significant procedures, etc. Relational databases can also be used effectively to interconnect various related information fetched from multiple systems across the healthcare facilities overtime. Say, for example, a relational database that stores data in a particular cardiac care center can be linked to the primary care hospital’s registration system. So, during registration itself, a patient’s information is automatically sent to the system, following the standard Him protocols.

This will further eliminate the need for another facility to input the patient info to the database again. More importantly, the patient care history is also made available right there for better diagnosis and prognosis. For more administration of the healthcare database, you may contact personnel of RemoteDBA. Relational databases also boast of the potential to eradicate the use of paper stores. They can also quickly transfer the information across the healthcare facilities to answer all critical questions about the efficacy of healthcare services. Say, for example, a diabetic patient who possesses the risk factors can be monitored more effectively to understand the effect of various drugs administered to help control the related comorbidities.

From a prevention and healthcare administration standpoint, usage of relational databases can be used to identify high-risk patients like those who have a family history of cardiac arrests or aneurysms, etc. Once this is determined at the first point itself, the patients can be appropriately screened to prevent any possibilities of a repercussion.

e-HIM implementation skills

To make sure that the objectives of e-HIM initiate are met, the HIM professionals need to have competent knowledge and skills to plan, design, develop, implement, and maintain successful databases. Let us explore the primary skills HIM database administrators need to have for this.

Database design skills:

  1. Ability to do end-user requirement analysis.
  2. Define the elements of data.
  3. Knowledge of data retrieval and data reporting
  4. Fair understanding of relational database models.
  5. Knowledge of data partitioning
  6. Data normalization skills.
  7. Ability to read and understand the data dictionaries
  8. Basic fluency in SQL query language
  9. Ability to handle the open DB connectivity administrator
  10. Knowledge of using Access and SQL
  11. Knowledge of table creation, form creation, querying, and report making.
  12. Knowledge to secure databases (HIPAA compliance)
  13. Ability to create logical, conceptual, relational database models and implement those as actual physical models
  14. Ability to properly plan and allocate disk space to host databases
  15. Understanding of the network operations to make sure proper access to databases.
  16. Ability to perform database denormalization
  17. Ability to build and use the if/then statements
  18. Ability to prepare the diagram of entity-relationship
  19. Create a customized view of the needs of different users.
  20. Creating aggregate functions and calculations within the queries
  21. Skills of database testing to ensure correct relationships and report preparations.
  22. Ability to perform the left, right, union, and equijoin by understanding many results they produce.
  23. The ability for effective communication
  24. Ability to document the database designing part properly.
  25. Analyzing the end-user workflow for better database structure design
  26. Interpret and respond to the error messages generated in SQL and Access.
  27. Ability to adapt to the database design related issues
  28. Knowledge of performing proper indexing for better query performance
  29. Knowledge of database backup and restoration
  30. Ability to identify and troubleshoot the common database failures

By reviewing these top 30 skill lists, you can easily understand why the skills in SQL command language is coming on top of the list. SQL can be ideally used to create, manage, manipulate, and modify the most popular databases like SQL Server, MySQL, DB2, Access, and Oracle, etc., which are widely used in healthcare-related applications.

Author’s Bio:

Walter Moore is a notable management consultant and digital marketing expert at RemoteDBA He is an experienced digital marketer and has helped e-commerce businesses in all niches gain with his effective marketing strategies and guidance.