Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Systems Analysis, Health Informatics, Information Technology

If, at times, it seems as though I do not have a life—it is because my life is my work.  It is a challenge to resolve the understanding that the passion for perfection lends to a misconception that certain personality types thrive on the bits and bytes of creating a perfect network.  Is there such a thing?  I do not believe it has been achieved yet.  It is no surprise that college break is challenging without the daily tasks to continue pushing forward to meet deadlines with purpose and intent.  Running wide open for an entire quarter, pushing for perfection while we try to ask the right questions worrying whether we are understanding the lessons of the professors.  Wide open to full stop is not an easy transition for certain personalities and this is the force behind this post.  With Systems Analysis approaching, the question of “what is systems analysis” has been haunting me.  It is fully understood by many students who know who the professor will be, there are many statements of concern with the challenges to come.  This will probably prove to be one of the most rigorous quarters experienced so far.

What is systems analysis?  Querying Wikipedia, the contributors describe systems analysis as:

Systems analysis is a problem solving technique that decomposes a system into its component pieces for the purpose of the studying how well those component parts work and interact
to accomplish their purpose".[1] According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, systems analysis is "the process of studying a procedure or business in order to identify its goals and purposes and create systems and procedures that will achieve them in an efficient way". Analysis and synthesis, as scientific methods, always go hand in hand; they complement one another. Every synthesis is built upon the results of a preceding analysis, and every analysis requires a subsequent synthesis in order to verify and correct its results.
This field is closely related to requirements analysis or operations research. It is also "an explicit formal inquiry carried out to help someone (referred to as the decision maker) identify a better course of action and make a better decision than she might otherwise have made.[2]

Some students have stated that the Electronic Health Records experience was either irrelevant or anti-climactic.  The question of “why” crossed my mind because it was one of the most beneficial courses that explained some important issues regarding HIPAA, the Affordable Care Act, and understanding who the leaders are for the governing policies and mandates.  It provided some key relevant information that otherwise would never have been researched nor investigated as many statements have been made without proper investigation and without validating involved acts.  It was an experience that presented more questions as I wondered, “what is expected and what is needed from Health Informatics Information Technology trained personnel?”  What does hardware and computer network engineering have to do with the role of a SQL DBMS administrator?

One of the messages received through our Electronic Health Records course was the Security Rule that was required of students to read, research and report what they felt this meant.  It is stated at HHS.gov:
The Security Rule requires covered entities to maintain reasonable and appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for protecting e-PHI.
Specifically, covered entities must:
1.            Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all e-PHI they create, receive, maintain or transmit;
2.            Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information;
3.            Protect against reasonably anticipated, impermissible uses or disclosures; and
4.            Ensure compliance by their workforce.4

Great.  We get that, so what?  While perusing some light reading material during break, I noticed a post regarding mining event log data.  Then the exercise of maneuvering through the Electronic Health Records to view who accessed what records and for how long came to mind.  What happens when there are thousands of records to have to sift through?  Would you open that user interface and scroll through every log, filtering, looking for a specific event?  How about a script, to pull the information from the event logs and using SQL instead?  What key words would be in that WHERE clause and what would you GROUP BY and what should the query be HAVING?  Do you know?  That’s right… there’s that nasty CNE program thing.

That’s the job of IT right?  But wait a minute… you are IT.  Yes, we are going to school for Health Informatics and maybe my personal interests and passion are clouding my perception of our roles and responsibilities.  Or is it?  Do you remember the MMC?  Do you remember the assignments to look at those event logs?  Guess who gets to pull that information, expected to understand how to manipulate that data in order to present meaningful information for business decisions?  That would be us. 

So, some would comment that my personal network obsessions will be taking me into fields of work in a different nature as I work towards my Network Engineering certifications to compliment my SQL Server certification.  However, while considering that important decision tree to determine the next step of competitive gainful employment, I have been reading articles such as The Scripting Guys Data Mine the Windows Event Log by Using PowerShell and XML.  Working on C# and considering studying some PowerShell on my own, as I listen to whispers of business intelligence for systems analysis using event logs for important key information has given some consideration to how crucial our skills will be with HIPAA regulations.  Looking forward to next quarter knowing business intelligence and systems analysis will be our primary focus.  I may not have a life and I may have an odd concept of rest and relaxation but it is the questioning nature that drives me to seek the answers and next quarter will present more tools for those questions about systems analysis and business intelligence.