The health information system has gained a complexity that expands to several levels. What this article intends to tackle with concerns the series of the organizational and social implications which health informatics has upon external areas. Being an evolving field, health informatics requires technological development at multiple levels of abstraction and complexity. Hence, the issues of community-based health systems, virtual communities, and globalization are to be discussed within the range of this article.
The first aspect to be dealt with regards community-based health systems. This requires the conceiving of a community health information network which establishes the connection among healthcare stakeholders within a community or region. This integrated assemble of networking means ease not only the process of communication with patients, but also the exchange of clinical and financial information among multiple providers, employers, and related healthcare entities from a specific geographical area. An interactive research and communication tool, community-based health systems revolve around the implementation of a computerized patient record system at the level of a community or region.
Virtual communities constitute the second aspect related to the social implications of the health information system. They have the function of on-line support groups for both e-patients and e-caregivers. This concept of virtual communities is promoted as part of e-disease management programs developed by e-health companies. By means of them, consumers receive general information, data about medical research on specific diseases, and information regarding available products and services associated with these diseases. Psychological support is also provided by the patients that face the same condition. Virtual communities have at their core a virtual patient records database that functions on the basis of an integrated processing engine. This engine links the collection of patient-related information and expertise elements and delivers a unitary, well-classified and organized output under the form of a set of administrative and clinical information. This result can be retrieved, exchanged and disseminated by e-health providers for e-clinical decision making, e-control, analysis, e-diagnosis, e-treatment planning and evaluation.
The third social-organizational implication of a health information system resides in globalization. Within health informatics, this phenomenon implies viewing the world as a single community so that the virtual networks and e-health information services to be subordinated to the promotion of health and well-being. Globalization of e-healthcare requires effective use of resources at the individual, group, community, organizational and societal level. Many administrative and financial processes can be streamlined by e-health purchasers and providers by implementing global call centers and Internet-enabled transactional services. This way, a global exchange of data for scheduling, billing, shipping, ordering and purchasing healthcare products and services is promoted. Another benefit of the globalization of e-health system is that under-served urban, rural or remoter areas can receive high-quality services.