Today, the progress of information technologies stimulates their wide implementation in different spheres of life. In this respect, the use of information technologies becomes particularly prospective in the health care system because they can improve consistently the quality of health care services and the maintenance of health care system. The latter means that the National Health Care System as well as health care professionals need to process a huge amount of information in order to obtain detailed information about their patients, their history and health problems. In such a situation, information technologies and an effective information management system can be very helpful. At the same time, new information technologies are currently widely implemented in education, especially in distant learning. However, the effective use of new information technologies confronts a number of problems, among which it is possible to single out the problem of reliability of information systems of health care institutions as one of the major problems. In addition, often students can face a problem of control of patients’ treatment and development of diseases in patients. In such a way, it is obvious that numerous problems accompanying the introduction of new information technologies and development of information systems are very important and can prevent them from effective functioning if health care institutions fail to improve the reliability of and control over their information systems. In such a situation, the support of information management system in the NHS is essential and decision support system can be very helpful to health care professionals and to the information management system in health care.
On analyzing resources that support information management system, it is primarily necessary to dwell upon human resources, which play the crucial role in the successful performance of information system in the NHS and its effective management. In this respect the medical records staff plays a particularly significant role. In actuality, the medical records staff is working on the creation of long-term electronic health records for every member of the population of the UK. The medical records staff supports the information management system but, at the same time, these professionals have extensive knowledge not only in the field of health care but also in the field of information technologies and management. Each member of the medical records staff performs his or her specific functions.
The clinical management team information team senior managers work within teaching hospitals NHS trust. They work to the head of clinical and performance information and supporting others managers within the information management system. The information team senior managers need to have an extensive experience of information analysis in health care environment and a demonstrable track record on managing staff (Behzad, 2003). Furthermore, information managers work within primary care trust. They should have management experience and they should be able to work in a team and collaborate with other organizations to maintain the effective functioning of the information management system, which involves the introduction of new information technologies. Directors of information management work for hospitals in NHS trust, where the management of information, both electronic and manual is central to the Trusts modernization strategy (Mingliang, 2002). Directors of information management work organize the work of managers working within the information management system. At the same time, managers and assistant managers of a medical records department work with health care professionals and IT specialists to maintain the functioning of the information system of the NHS up-to-date in terms of information technologies and to meet needs of health care professionals. On the other hand, the medical records team also includes patient liaison managers, who provide the interaction between the medical records team staff and patients. In such a way, the work of the medical records team staff is one of the major resources that develops and maintains the information management system running smoothly. Today, the medical records team plays an important part in the successful implementation of information technologies in the NHS because they help to unite needs and work of health care professionals, managers, IT specialists and patients.
At the same time, the introduction of new information systems implies that the personnel working with the information system as well as professionals working with information management system have to be trained to be able to use the new information system and apply appropriate management techniques and approaches to make the information system function effectively. Obviously, the training of personnel may be a serious problem, especially in the context of shortage of health care professionals in the NHS and the fast pace of the development of new information technologies and information systems. The fast development of information systems means that the frequency and intensity of training should increase respectively to the pace of the development and introduction of new information system. In such a situation, the NHS and health care institutions have to introduce new effective information management systems. The latter can become a serious burden for the NHS and health care institutions because it needs substantial investments and time to introduce the system and train the personnel to use it effectively.
In such a situation, some specialists (Hart, 2004) recommend outsourcing the information management system for the NHS and health care institutions. However, this solution of the problem of the maintenance and effective management of information systems within the NHS and health care institutions raises a number of issues. First, the outsourcing of the information management system implies that the company, which provides these services, can have access to private information of patients that naturally raises the problem of potential information breaches. Second, the outsourcing may need substantial funds and, what is more important, the NHS and health care institutions grow depend on the organization that can maintain the information management system. At the same time, outsourcing the information management system to several companies increases the risk of information breaches even more, although it increases the competition between the companies and allows the NHS to save costs on outsourcing. Third, the outsourcing of information management system may eventually lead to the outsourcing of information systems used by the NHS and health care institutions at large. As a result, the costs of such outsourcing can increase significantly becoming an unbearable burden for the NHS and British tax payers. On the other hand, the outsourcing of the information management system will provide the NHS with professional and effective maintenance of its information system and the quality of information management will increase substantially. Alternatively, the NHS and health care institutions can develop their own information management systems and maintain them.
Furthermore, the development of an efficient information management system should be a strategic goal of health care organizations.
However, in such a context, the question of the funding of the information management system arises. In actuality, the NHS and health care institutions heavily relies on the state funding. Therefore, British taxpayers are the major source of funding of the NHS that means that the funding of the information management system will also depend on the state funding of this system. The state funding of the information management system makes the effectiveness of the system crucial because British taxpayers can count for the effective use of their money by the state. The misuse of state funds means the misuse of financial resources collected by means of taxes. Consequently, the state should be responsible for the effective use of funds.
At the same time, the development of the effective information management system depends not only on the state funds but also it needs the interaction between the state, the NHS, health care professionals, IT professionals, and managers employed within the NHS. The close cooperation between professionals employed within the NHS and working with the information management system is very important because the system cannot function effectively if there are conflicts or communication gaps between professionals using and maintaining the system. To put it more precisely, health care professionals should be aware of the full potential of information systems they use and they should understand the essence of the information management system to be able to realise the full potential of the system in their everyday work. They may need the professional support of IT specialists who has developed the information management system. Therefore, IT specialists should communicate with health care professionals to assist them to use information system effectively. At the same time, the task of managers is not only to maintain the functioning of the information management system but also to facilitate the communication between health care professionals and IT specialists, to organize training, if necessary and to maximize the effectiveness of the system.
In addition, patients should also have a possibility to access to and participate in the functioning of the information management system.
They are directly involved in this system and it is their private information that is at stake. Therefore, they should have the right and opportunity to participate in the development and functioning of the information management system.
In such a context, it is obvious that the process of decision making should involve the close cooperation of health care professionals, IT specialists, managers and patients. The development of decision support systems can facilitate the cooperation and communication between the aforementioned groups. To put it more precisely, decision support systems can facilitate the communication between health care professionals, patients, managers, and IT specialists providing them with the opportunity to share information and their opinion about the functioning of the information management system, to reveal its drawbacks and failures and offer recommendations concerning its improvement. In the course of the communication between health care professionals, IT specialists, managers and patients, it is possible to take decisions that meet interests of patients and improve the functioning of the information management system, where as managers and IT specialists can focus on technical improvements of the information management system to meet needs and expectations of both health care professionals and patients.
In addition, the decision support system facilitates consistently the work of health care professionals because this system is design to assist health care professionals with decision making tasks (Hart, 2004). As the matter of fact, the assistance of the decision support system is very important because it helps health care professionals to take decisions faster than they used to do in the past. In addition, the computer programs which actually comprise the decision support system can process a huge amount of information in a relative short period. As a result, health care professional can retrieve important information fast and take decisions concerning the diagnosis of patients and their possible treatment. In spite of the criticism of such use of the decision support system, the benefits of this system are beyond a doubt. As it has been already mentioned above the decision support system saves time, which is crucial when diagnosis is needed fast. In addition, the decision support system offers health care professionals more options to take correct decision due to the more effective processing of information compared to processing of information by humans. Therefore, the use of the decision support system is essential in the contemporary health care environment, especially, taking into consideration the fact that medical records of patients can be used by this system.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the NHS and health care institutions do need to introduce and develop effective information management system in order to maintain the effective functioning of their information systems and organizational performance at large. This means that the effective information management system can contribute to a consistent improvement of the quality of health care services and improve the organizational performance of the NHS and health care institutions. It is important to stress the significance of the reliability of health care information management system. Students should be able to use this system effectively, but they should not violated rules established by health care institutions and individual health care professionals. In addition, it is important to protect the information system to avoid information breaches and errors. In such a situation, the NHS needs to focus on the development of its information management system as a strategic direction in its development. Finally, the development of an effective information management system is grounded on the effective decision support system, which implies the close cooperation between health care professionals, patients, IT specialists and managers.