Chances are if you are reading about epidemiology and population health, you already have a good idea of what this industry entails. To be thorough, epidemiology is a sector of medicine in which the causes, sources, and effects of disease are studied. Now, what is this to do with population health? Epidemiology allows scientists and researchers with tangible evidence to understand disease spread, and therefore institute proper healthcare plans.
As we said, epidemiology is the study of patterns, origins, causes and effects that are in relation to ailments or disease. Epidemiology is a branch of public health, and the study provides statistical proof to find preventative measures for disease. Some of the factors that are studied as a part of epidemiology are time of occurrence, the location of disease, and the demographic affected.
Epidemiologists have at least a master degree in public health, usually with a focus on epidemiology. This degree includes classes and information about behavior, research, immunology, biostatistics and much more. Positions in a lab usually require medical school or completing your dissertation. When working in the field of epidemiology; you can work in many varying sectors of healthcare. Some specialties include genetic, psychological, and environmental studies. Also, some places of employee include disease control centers, hospitals, universities and more.
Epidemiology provides a means for understanding disease. Researchers, scientists, and doctors alike study the origin, effects, and spread of a disease. With this information they find preventative measure that can be taken to improve the public’s health. In turn, the public benefits from epidemiology by having a field of experts working toward the improvement of public health and the battle of disease.
By improving the health of the public, epidemiology benefits all. Even if you are not directly affected by disease, epidemiologists find preventative measures, and one of their preventatives measures could be the sole reason you are disease free. Some examples of successful epidemiology are the control of a two-year outbreak of Klebsiella in the early 90’s, the constant battle of alcoholism, and even most recently, the study of Ebola. Epidemiology is working around you always, in an effort to keep you healthful and protected.
Now that we have reviewed what exactly epidemiology is, who studies it, how it effects population’s health, and finally who benefits from it you can see the true importance of this realm of the medical field.
HIPAA works from the premise that individuals should control their own personal health information. HIPAA has significant exceptions to allow medical care to be provided to the patient without unduly burdensome paperwork requirements. HIPAA also have broad exceptions for research access to records, but these still make certain types of research much more burdensome or impossible to do. As discussed in the Public Health section, there are also significant exceptions to HIPAA for public health investigations.
HIPAA does provide some useful additional protections for patient privacy and it gives patients better control over their medical information. This comes at a significant cost to hospitals and other medical care providers, as well to medical research. Given the numerous exceptions to HIPAA, which privacy advocates argue really allow most of the practices they are concerned about, it is not clear that HIPAA will be worth its cost. Only time can answer that question.