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Health information technology (Health IT or HIT) is the comprehensive management of health information and its secure exchange between consumers, health care providers, government agencies, and insurers. Health information technology is increasingly viewed as the most promising tool for improving the overall quality, safety and efficiency of the health delivery system


The adoption and use of health information technology promises an array of potential benefits for individuals and the U.S. healthcare system through improved clinical care and reduced cost. Health IT makes it possible for health care providers to better manage patient care through secure use and sharing of health information. Health IT includes the use of electronic health records (EHRs) instead of paper medical records to maintain people's health information.

Improved health care[]

With the help of health IT, health care providers will have:

  • Accurate and complete information about a patient's health. That way they can give the best possible care, whether during a routine visit or a medical emergency.
  • The ability to better coordinate the care they give. This is especially important if a patient has a serious medical condition.
  • A way to securely share information with patients and their family caregivers over the Internet, for patients who opt for this convenience. This means patients and their families can more fully take part in decisions about their health care.
  • Information to help doctors diagnose health problems sooner, reduce medical errors, and provide safer care at lower costs.

Health information technology can

  • allow clinicians to have real-time access to complete patient data, and provide them with support to make the best possible decisions.
  • help patients become more involved in their own care, which is especially important in managing chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease.
  • enable a range of population­ level monitoring and real-time research such as the detection of developing epidemics, health risks in the environment, or adverse events caused by medications. It can improve clinical trials, leading to more rapid advances in personalized medicine.
  • streamline processes and reduce administrative overhead, which can lead to the creation of new, high­-tech markets and jobs.
  • help support a range of economic reforms in the healthcare system that will be needed to address our country’s long-­term fiscal challenges.

Improved national health care systems[]

Widespread use of health IT can also:

  • Make health care systems more efficient and reduce paperwork for patients and doctors.
  • Expand access to affordable care.
  • Build a healthier future for a nation.

Barriers to health IT[]

Several identifiable barriers in the healthcare system currently discourage innovation and vigorous competition in the market to create effective health IT systems. First, most current health IT systems are proprietary applications that are not easily adopted into the workflow of a clinician’s day, and whose proprietary data formats are not directly exchangeable from one system to another. It is difficult for data to be disaggregated, indexed, searched, and assembled to provide accurate information to treat a patient, because the context for individual entries in a record is often implicit at best.

Second, most healthcare organizations that utilize electronic health records (EHRs) view them as purely internal resources, and have little incentive for investment in secondary or external uses, such as making them accessible in appropriate form to patients, to a patient’s healthcare providers at other organizations, and in de­identified or aggregated form to public health agencies and researchers.

Third, legitimate patient concerns about privacy and security make patients uneasy about participating in health IT systems or granting consent for their information to be used in research. The overarching privacy and security goal of this application area is to build public trust and participation in HIT and electronic health information exchange by incorporating effective privacy and security solutions in every phase of its development, adoption, and use.

Fourth, health IT has historically been oriented toward administrative functions, not better care. This is in part because, under the current fee­ for ­service payment model, the economic benefits of investing in health IT can rarely be realized by the provider or organization that makes the investment.


See also[]