THIS is NOT and information paper so please read this carefully

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Individual Writing Assignment

This Individual Writing Assignment is worth 20 points, and it is due at the end of Week 5.

The purposes of this assignment are to a) help you effectively use research resources through library data bases and search engines to complete course requirements; b) improve your critical thinking skills, and c) develop your effectiveness in writing about topics relevant to course objectives and healthcare information systems.  The paper explores, in greater detail than the required readings and class discussion, any healthcare information system topic identified in the course text or syllabus. Your job is to select a current issue in healthcare information systems, provide the necessary background and your position, along with a conclusion and future direction. I encourage you to select a subject in which you have interest and approach this assignment as a potential publishable work.  

Position Paper

Your final paper is 15 pages double-spaced (excluding the executive summary, footnotes, and references) with a 10 or 12 point font. Tables, graphics, and diagrams must be placed in the paper as attachments. They do not count in the page length. This is a guide to help you organize your content and what is expected in each section.  The page counts are suggested, however, where they have a limit, that must be adhered to.

·         Cover Page: APA Style (1 Page, not included in page count)

·         Table of Contents: (not included in page count)

·         Executive Summary: Bottom line up front (1 page, no more)

·         Introduction: (1/2 to 1 page)

·         Background: Information on the topic that provides context so readers can understand the background leading into your statement and analysis of the issue (up to 2 pages, no more)

·         Analysis of the issue: This is the problem you see with the current state of your topic supported by evidence and literature that brings validity to the issue or problem you are stating exists.  Then describe the factors contributing to the issue /problem broken down by (2-3 pages)

  • People
  • Processes
  • Technology

·         Position:  Now that the reader understands the problem broken down by people, process, and technology, provide a clear statement of what your position is on the issue and why.  (1/2 to 1 page)

·         Rationale:  Now that the reader clearly understands your position and why you will detail your position with supporting evidence and literature to persuade the reader your position is the most valid.  You should address opposing views with counter arguments here also.  Your position should have evidence directly addressing the issues you stated above broken down by the same (3-4 pages)

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology

·         Recommendation: Now that you have convinced the reader on your position being the best way forward, you need to provide 3-5 discrete recommendations to best address the issue. (2-3  pages)

·         Conclusion: Sum up what has been said with the bottom line (1/2 page)

·         References: APA Style (not included in page count)

·         Attachments:  (not included in page count)

Start by Anchoring to a Topic

Picking a topic is rather difficult, and it takes a careful eye to choose a proper one for an argument essays. When taking a class and given the opportunity to choose a topic for an argument essay is normally very flexible.  The first thing that you should stay away from is a topic that you don’t care about. The second thing you should stay away from is a topic that is too broad to cover in your particular essay.   The third thing is that it has to be in some way related to health information technology.  An argumentative essay is one that revolves around an argument. If there is no argument, then there can be no argumentative essay. If your thesis does not have an opposing thesis or your argument has no counter argument then the topic is not good for your assignment. If you have a topic in mind, try and test it against the counter topic. Write out your thesis and the opposing thesis just to make sure there is one.  The key point is that your topic MUST have conflicting views.  Subjects and statements that are generally accepted to be true should be avoided when you select an argumentative essay topic.

Taking an opposing position for an accepted stance on a health IT topic is also acceptable because you are arguing against it.  Arguing for something that is already accepted would simply be an information paper restating what is already known on the topic.  The point of this is the analysis and critical thinking in formulating and arguing your position on a topic that has 2 sides or an opposing side to an accepted practice in health IT that can be supported by evidence (research, peer reviewed journals, etc.) that is quantifiable and qualifiable.  It is NOT to describe “about” a topic or provide a primer or information about a topic.  Certainly NOT a Wikipedia-like article or essay.  There is no position on that, critical analysis or argument…just a reiteration of facts.  This is an argumentative essay or position paper that means taking a topic that has some controversy, differing view points, and arguing your side of the issue, problem or position.  

First, make sure your topic is debatable. Check your thesis!  You cannot argue a statement of fact; you must base your paper on a strong position. Ask yourself…

  • How many people could argue against my position?  What would they say?
  • Can it be addressed with a yes or no? (aim for a topic that requires more info.)
  • Can I base my argument on scholarly evidence, or am I relying on religion, cultural standards, or morality? (You MUST be able to do quality research!)

Why do I need to address the opposing side’s argument? – There is an old kung-fu saying which states, “The hand that strikes also blocks”, meaning that when you argue it is to your advantage to anticipate your opposition and strike down their arguments within the body of your own paper. This sentiment is echoed in the popular saying, “The best defense is a good offense”. By addressing the opposition you achieve the following goals:

  • llustrate a well-rounded understanding of the topic
  • demonstrate a lack of bias
  • enhance the level of trust that the reader has for both you and your opinion
  • give yourself the opportunity to refute any arguments the opposition may have
  • strengthen your argument by diminishing your opposition’s argument

Examples of topics that will NOT work, there is nothing to argue which will result in an information paper.

 Adopting an EHR can help improve patient care. 

If you use the example of playing sports is good…its too general, doesn’t address the who, what, why and how and finally, its not a debatable topic.   Its known and proven with many studies.

 Computerized provider order entry reduces prescribing errors. 

Though this topic is more narrow to a specific component of EHR, it doesn’t address the who, and how and finally, it’s not a debatable topic.   It’s known and proven with many studies.

 Telehealth improves access to care for rural health.

First this topic is too broad.  There are many types of telehealth and second, the entire purpose of telehealth is to improve access to care.  Once again, its known and proven with many studies.

 Can EHRs improve patient participation? 

This won’t work for the same reasons as above.  More importantly, a position is NOT a question.  So never base your position which should be firm on a question.

One example of a solid argument taking the telehealth example would be

Health organizations will remain reluctant to adopt virtual visits and secure messaging which improve access to care until Medicare reimburses for care in their home.

Its narrow.  Its debatable, its current.  It tells you exactly what the problem is that I’m arguing and the position I’m taking.  This helps anchor your entire writing around this issue in technology.  From this, I would provide an introduction about the PROBLEM.  I would then give brief background on virtual visits, secure messaging, medicare reimbursements and more importantly the background of the problem of reimbursements for the care impacting adoption and of course the benefits.  Then I would proceed with my analysis of this problem.  Studies that support the position to demonstrate how Medicare influences adoption and with reimbursements for virtual visits at home, projected adoption, reduction of physical visits and subsequent improvement in access to care.  The problem it solves and benefits.  I would then take any counter arguments, address them and counter the counter arguments to demonstrate the pros outweighs the cons supported by evidence that can be quantified and qualified.  I would then provide clear recommendation that align with each of the problems you stated and how to address each.  Then conclude to wrap up.

Now that we know what a strong thesis statement is, we can begin to craft one of our own. Most effective position statements often answer these three questions:

  • What is the essay’s subject?
  • What is the main idea that will be discussed about the topic?
  • What is the evidence or support that will be used to support the main idea?

Let’s suppose that I want to write an essay about playing sports. I might begin with a sentence like this:

Playing sports is really good for people.

This is a good start because it does express my position without announcing it; unfortunately, it is vague and general and therefore ineffective. It is not all that exciting for my reader, and it leaves my audience too many unanswered questions. WHY is playing sports good for people? HOW does playing sports benefit people? WHICH people benefit from playing sports? Asking questions about the topic is a great way to find more specific information to include in my thesis.

Let’s suppose now that after asking these questions, I’ve decided I want to narrow my topic into children and sports. I might next have a thesis like this:

Playing sports is really good for children.

Now my thesis is more specific, but I still haven’t really answered the WHY and HOW questions. Maybe I think that playing sports helps children develop better cooperation skills, better coordination, and better overall health. I might have a thesis that ends up like this:

Playing sports is beneficial for children because it helps them develop better cooperation skills, better coordination, and better overall health.

Notice that I have beefed up my vocabulary a bit by changing “really good” to “beneficial.” For help with specific vocabulary, check out the Using Precise Language page.

Notice that I also now have the three major elements of a thesis statement:

  1. subject: playing sports
  2. main idea: playing sports is beneficial for children
  3. Support or Evidence: better cooperation, better coordination, and better overall health.

Most effective thesis statements contain this type of structure, often called an action plan or plan of development. This is such an effective type of thesis because it clearly tells the reader what is going to be discussed; it also helps the writer stay focused and organized. How can you now use this pattern to create an effective position statement?

Remember, this is not the only type of effective thesis statement, but using this pattern is helpful if you are having difficulty creating your thesis and staying organized in your writing.

https:// Thesis Statement Dissected

1. A good argumentative thesis is focused and not too broad.

It’s important to stay focused! Don’t try to argue an overly broad topic in your essay, or you’re going to feel confused and unsure about your direction and purpose.

Don’t write, “Eating fast food is bad and should be avoided.”

This statement is too general and would be nearly impossible for you to defend. It leaves a lot of big questions to answer. Is all fast food bad? Why is it bad? Who should avoid it? Why should anyone care?

 Do write, “Americans should eliminate the regular consumption of fast food because the fast food diet leads to preventable and expensive health issues, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.”

In this example, I’ve narrowed my argument to the health consequences related to a diet of fast food. I’ve also chosen to focus on Americans rather than everyone in the universe. (Because, as we all know, inhabitants of the faraway planet Double patty 5 require the starches and fats inherent in fast food to survive).

2. A good argumentative thesis is centered on a debatable topic.

Back in the ‘80s, teens loved to say “that’s debatable” about claims they didn’t agree with (such as “you should clean your room” and “you shouldn’t go to that movie”). This age-old, neon-colored, bangle-wearing, peg-legged wisdom holds true today—in your thesis statement.

Don’t write, “There are high numbers of homeless people living in Berkeley, California.”

No one can argue for or against this statement. It’s not debatable. It’s just a fact.

An argument over this non-debatable statement would go something like this:

“There are lots of homeless people in Berkeley.”

“Yes, there sure are a bunch of them out there.”


As you can see, that’s not much of an argument.

 Do write, “Homeless people in Berkeley should be given access to services, such as regular food donations, public restrooms, and camping facilities, because it would improve life for all inhabitants of the city.”

Now that’s debatable.

Opponents could easily argue that homeless people in Berkeley already receive adequate services (“just look at all those luxurious sidewalks!”), or perhaps that they shouldn’t be entitled to services at all (“get a job, ya lazy loafers!”).

3. A good argumentative thesis picks a side.

I went into a lot of detail about the importance of picking sides in my post The Secrets of a Strong Argumentative Essay. Picking a side is pretty much the whole entire point of an argumentative essay.

Just as you can’t root for both the Yankees and the Mets, you can’t argue both sides of a topic in your thesis statement.

Don’t write, “Secondhand smoke is bad and can cause heart disease and cancer; therefore, smoking should be outlawed in public places, but outlawing smoking is unfair to smokers so maybe non-smokers can just hold their breath or wear masks around smokers instead.”

A wishy-washy statement like this will make your reader scratch his head in puzzlement. Are you for smoking laws or against them? Yankees or Mets? Mets or Yankees?

Pick a side, and stick with it!

Then stick up for it.

 Do write, “Secondhand smoke is just as harmful as smoking and leads to a higher prevalence of cancer and heart disease. What’s worse, people who inhale secondhand smoke are doing so without consent. For this reason, smoking in any public place should be banned.”

4.      A good thesis makes claims that will be supported later in the paper.

As I explained in my blog post How to Create a Powerful Argumentative Essay Outline, Your claims make up a critical part of building the roadmap to your argument.

It’s important to first include a summary of your claims in your thesis statement. During the course of your essay, you will back each of your claims with well-researched evidence.

Don’t write, “Humans should relocate to Mars.”

This statement doesn’t include any supporting claims. Why should humans move to Mars? What are the benefits of moving to a planet without oxygen or trees?

 Do write, “It is too late to save earth; therefore, humans should immediately set a date for their relocation to Mars where, with proper planning, they can avoid issues of famine, war, and global warming.”

This statement includes some thought-provoking claims. The reader will wonder how the author plans to defend them. (“Famine, war, and global warming can be easily avoided on Mars? Go on…”)

Once again, google is amazing in finding health IT topics that you can form your paper.

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