IT in Healthcare – Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Beyond

HIT/EMR – Background

As trends and technology continually evolve, the healthcare industry must also evolve in its methods of creating, storing and sharing information.   The current healthcare system is stuck in an outdated, tedious realm of information sharing.    Fear of new technology, lack of standardization, insufficient incentives, uncertain legalities and questionable cost drivers hinder progress.  Regardless, a standardized HIT system is an inevitable necessity 1) to advance health care quality, 2) to better assist patients with acute and chronic conditions, 3) to diminish disparities in treatment, and 4) to reduce medical errors.   (HIT in the United States: The Information Base for Progress, 1:2)  The problem has gained attention at the highest levels of government, resulting in increased funding for IT development in the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The Act “includes more than $20 billion to aid in the development of a robust IT infrastructure for healthcare and to assist providers and other entities in adopting and using health IT.” (National Health IT Week, Press Release, 2009)  Why such intense focus?  A recent RAND study determined that “properly implemented and widely adopted, Health Information Technology (HIT) would save money and significantly improve healthcare quality.” (“Health Information Technology: Can HIT Lower Costs and Improve Quality?” 1)


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