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Humanistic aspects of medical information management

10 September 2023

In the era of digitalisation and Big Data, medical information management has become one of the key elements of the healthcare system. Although technological innovations such as electronic medical records (EDM) and telemedicine significantly facilitate the collection and analysis of data, the humanistic aspects of the process must not be forgotten. The proper management of medical information is not only a matter of efficiency, but also of ethics, privacy and patient dignity.

Privacy and confidentiality
The first and most obvious aspect is the protection of privacy and confidentiality of medical data. Patients share very intimate and personal information with doctors, which can affect their personal and professional lives. Improper management of this data can lead to leakage, which is a serious breach of ethics and the law.

Communication and emotional support
Medical information is not just a collection of data, but also a communication tool between patient and doctor. How information is communicated can significantly affect the patient's experience of healthcare. Emotional support and empathy are essential in the communication process, especially in cases of difficult diagnoses or treatments.

Education and entitlements
The humanistic aspect of medical information management is also related to patient education. Access to clear and comprehensible information enables patients to better understand their own health situation, which empowers them in their treatment decisions.

Cultural and social determinants
The cultural and social diversity of patients affects the management of medical information. In this context, it is important to consider the linguistic and cultural barriers that can affect the quality and efficiency of care.

Technology at the service of man
Although technology plays a key role in medical information management, its main purpose should be to serve people. This means that EDM systems, data analysis algorithms or telemedicine should be designed to be as understandable and accessible as possible for patients and medical staff.

Ethics and professional obligations
All these aspects affect the ethical issues and professional obligations of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. It is not only an obligation to comply with the law, but also a commitment to maintain patient trust. That is why codes of ethics in medicine often emphasise the importance of confidentiality, empathy and proper communication as key elements of professionalism.

Balancing technology and humanism
On the one hand, there is a need to invest in advanced technologies that enable better data collection and analysis. On the other hand, too much reliance on technology can dehumanise healthcare, making it cold and impersonal. Balancing these two aspects is key to humanistic health information management. This means developing technology in a way that incorporates the human element - from the user interface in electronic medical record systems to interpersonal training for medical staff.

Data-driven and empathy-based clinical decisions
It is equally important that medical data is used in a way that takes into account the unique circumstances of each patient. Over-reliance on algorithms and predictive models can lead to 'objectification' of the patient. Instead, clinical decisions should be the result of a symbiosis between robust data and clinical judgement that takes into account the individual patient's needs and context.

Patient participation
In humanistic health information management, it is also important that patients are actively involved in managing their own data. This offers the opportunity to improve the quality of care and increase trust in the healthcare system. Thanks to technologies such as patient portals, people now have more control over their data and can actively participate in the decision-making process.

As technology in medicine continues to evolve, our understanding of humanism in medical information management must evolve just as rapidly. Remembering that behind every record, algorithm and clinical decision is a human being - a patient - for whom all these elements matter far beyond raw numbers or cold statistics. Regardless of advances in technology, the heart of medicine must always remain humanistic.