SWOT Analysis for Clinical
A clinical information system
can be defined to be a system that offers a set of tools and storage space
for data processing and data storage respectively. The set of tools is used
for the advanced processing of data using intelligent, intuitive, or
bioinformatic algorithms rendering advanced diagnostic capabilities, and
this processed data is afterwards stored in a digital form in the backend
hardware, which is then further archived.
In all these cases the data ideally is clinical, that is, the data is
patient biological data. The term 'biological data' can be related to a
patient pathological study or a patient histological study or patient
medical bills. Hence, any information system dealing solely with patient
medical/clinical data is called a clinical information system.
At present the clinical information systems technology domain has the
following strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats:
Boom of information technology (IT)
The IT boom has affected people worldwide and in a myriad of technical and
industrial domains--the situation in the healthcare industry domain is no
different. IT has introduced doctors and medical professionals to the
digital world, thereby allowing digitization, automation, and organized
storage on a virtual platform.
Need for storage of digital versions of clinical records
Conventionally, people would use bulky and cumbersome paper reports as
clinical data records. Hence, whenever patients underwent any form of
medical consulting they had to carry the paper reports to the doctor. With
the IT boom, any patient the world over finds it more convenient to have
electronic medical records (EMRs), which are digital records safely kept at
a digital repository. This eliminates the possible loss of a paper-based
report and therefore crucial information, and the manual transportation of
bulky records to medical consultations.
Need for an integrated information management system for clinical data
Hundreds of people visit hospitals on a daily basis for various reasons. The
biological tests and consulting diagnosis made by physicians have to be
stored as case files under patients' names. With time, managing such huge
amounts of data and storing them safely as a record became an enormous
problem for every hospital and clinic. Digital data makes it possible for
hospitals to have such records organized, formatted, processed, and stored
on a virtual platform, which could later be transferred to compact discs.
Need to have ready access to clinical data
The digitized version of medical records or EMRs allow patients to have
access to their clinical data no matter where they are, if they have access
to the Internet. Through the World Wide Web (WWW) patients can access their
records and also save a copy on their computers for ready reference. This
speeds up medical treatment and also relieves patients from having to
physically carry their records when they travel.
Huge data storage and faster data processing capabilities of mainframes
Conventionally, mainframes have been used by the banking sector to process
and record its transactions. This is also applicable to the healthcare
industry which has a central government repository where patient data is
finally stored. This centralized repository is also mainframe based as it is
faster and can accommodate huge amounts of data. But the recent trend is for
server-based models for data storage because of the facility of easy and
Keeping a mainframe as back end is less user-friendly and requires
Mainframe is actually an old technology that is robust but not as user
friendly as the present day systems. People today want easier access and
more user interactiveness. Keeping a mainframe as backend also means that
the work has to be performed in languages such as NATURAL and COBOL, which
are not easy to work upon. A line of coding written by a software engineer
in COBOL or NATURAL is costlier than a line of Java code. Hence,
upgradations become expensive and troublesome.
Hackers the world over can hack into a particular low-end clinical data
repository (server-based) and have ready access to some one else's data. So
there is now a problem of identity crisis and invasion of privacy. Hence,
digital security needs to be hiked.
Development of platform independent coding languages
If a Java Virtual Machine is installed in any system then many other
high-end coding languages can be used parallely along with Java.
Additionally, upgradations are easily made in Java or any other present-day
platform-independent coding languages.
Efficiently networked servers as an alternative to mainframes
Servers provide easy and speedy real-time access to data and are easily
maintained. Software upgradation is also easily accomplished. Hence, there
is a need for having a properly connected multiple server infrastructure,
which will aid in storing bulky data (similar to the bulk of data handled by
mainframes) while rendering easy access to that data for patients or end
More efficient and more user-friendly interfaces
Developing the front end and adding more and more features to the front end
of any information system is critical for any industry, and healthcare is no
Development of better and more effective security protocols
Security is both a need and a threat to any modern society or industry,
which largely rely on digital or electronic modes of operation. Security
concerns need to be addressed to prevent the invasion of privacy and
malpractices using an individual's clinical data.
Development of efficient and intuitive data processing software and
This is a field where the platform of bioinformatics will play an extremely
important part. Attractive front ends of information systems should be
provided with efficient interactive multimedia tools for high-end data
processing. These tools are software algorithms such as the algorithms used
for heart rate variability analysis where electrocardiogram data processed
using the algorithms may even reflect the physical stamina of the
individual. Such advanced diagnosis can be a very effective tool for judging
an athlete, for example.
As already mentioned, malpractices using any other person's data is the
biggest threat to the clinical information systems industry. Hence, the
threat to digital security due to hacking needs to be tackled.
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