The application of information processing involving computer hardware and software that deals with the storage, retrieval, sharing, and use of healthcare information and data.

What is Health IT?

Health information technology (IT) is the application of information processing within digital health, involving both computer hardware and software that deals with the storage, retrieval, sharing, and use of healthcare information, data, and knowledge for communication and decision making.

Health IT includes any type of technology used to manage the exchange of health-related information across computerised systems between patients, physicians, hospitals, governments, providers, insurers and other stakeholders.

Health IT includes the use of:

  • EMR (Electronic Medical Records) or EHR (Electronic Health Records)
  • Personal Health Records (PHR)
  • Clinical point of care technologies such as bar coding and Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)
  • Picture Archiving & Communication Systems (PACS)
  • Radiology Information Systems (RIS)
  • Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS)
  • Pharmacy Information Systems (PIS)
  • Laboratory Information Systems (LIS)
  • Electronic prescribing
  • Enterprise medical content management systems
  • Patient portals
  • mHealth apps
  • Emergency Department Information Systems (EDIS)
  • Information systems used in telehealth and telemedicine
  • Communications infrastructures that facilitate exchange and interoperability of health information

How is Health IT used?

Health IT permeates many facets of digital health delivery, and is adopted to achieve the following objectives:

  • To improve quality and the effectiveness of healthcare systems
  • To increase productivity and the efficiency of healthcare delivery
  • To prevent medical errors and increase the accuracy of healthcare procedures
  • To reduce healthcare costs
  • To increase administrative efficiencies and optimize work processes
  • To decrease paperwork and improve productivity
  • To enable real-time communications between healthcare professionals
  • To expand access to affordable care

Specific technologies and systems typically implemented to achieve Health IT objectives include:

  • Health IT nuviunElectronic tracking systems that help patients access quality care, reduce preventable adverse events (PAEs), and decrease overall health care utilization costs.
  • IT tools – such as the Internet – that transmit health information to support clinical practice and enhance relationships between patients and providers.
  • Clinical decision support tools that focus on improving clinicians’ adherence to evidence-based guidelines and patient care outcomes.
  • Secure email communications that enhance physician-patient interactions in order to implement evidence-based interventions.
  • Internet-based self-management tools to help patients improve quality of care and minimize adverse outcomes.
  • Computerized disease management systems to help patients by decreasing travel times to treatment, increasing access in remote locations, improving confidentiality, and making the disclosure of sensitive information easier.
  • Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems that improve patient safety by reducing medication errors and adverse drug events.
  • Disease registries that generate patient information regarding specific diagnoses and/or medications.
  • Behavioral education tools – such as mHealth apps and email notifications – by which online self-monitoring, physician referral, automated progress reports, and as-needed communications can be provided for clinical care.
  • Electronic medical records (EHRs) that enable storage, retrieval and management of records to enhance data accessibility, quality and communications with medical providers.Health IT device nuviun
  • Electronic prescribing that generates prescriptions through an automated data-entry process utilizing e-prescribing software and a transmission network which links to participating pharmacies.
  • Health information exchanges (HIEs) that electronically interface organizations within a region, community or hospital system for the purpose of sharing health information.
  • Portable wireless devices that provide continuous remote monitoring of a patient’s condition – helping doctors to make informed decisions based on current data to guide appropriate interventions.
  • Web-based patient portals to help patients communicate with healthcare providers and access portions of their medical records, as well as additional services.
  • Electronic health records (EHRs) that contain a patient’s health information and can be accessed and managed by multiple yet appropriate parties for the patient’s benefit – while maintaining strict patient confidentiality.
  • Telemedicine systems that use videoconferencing, telephones, computers, the Internet, fax, radio, or television to provide and support health care for a remote patient.
  • Telemonitoring systems that provide the ability to perform physiologic measurements and remote monitoring of patients outside the hospital setting.

Current Market and Industry Trends in Health IT

Depending upon the definition of Health IT in specific situations, and the sub-domains that are included, estimates of the Health IT market vary a great deal.

Most accepted definitions of Health IT exclude mHealth apps and only include EHR and hardware/software information systems.

As such, the North American Health IT market (US+Canada) is expected to reach $31.3 billion by 2017 from $21.9 billion in 2012 – at a CAGR of 7.4% – according to a report by Research and Markets.

The global Health IT market is expected to reach $56.7 billion by 2017, an increase from the 2012 market value of $40.4 billion, according to another report by the same firm.

The major factors driving Health IT growth include:

  • Pressure to cut healthcare costs
  • Growing demand to integrate healthcare systems
  • High rate of return on investment using health IT systems
  • Financial support from the U.S. government
  • Growing medical tourism in the Asian region
  • Government initiatives
  • Rise in aging population
  • Growing demand for CPOE adoption to reduce medication errors
  • Rise in incidences of chronic diseases

The major factors inhibiting Health IT growth include:

  • High costs of health IT solutions
  • High maintenance and service costs
  • Interoperability issues
  • Shortage of health IT professionals
  • Poor standardization of healthcare protocols
  • Low hospital budget allocations for health IT implementations
  • Poor legacy systems – such as front office applications and billing systems

Health IT is one of the earliest and most established forms of digital health, and is solidly integrated in healthcare systems around the world.

Although challenges to implementation and expansion exist, it will continue to grow as a bedrock for quality healthcare systems across the globe.

External Resources

  1. Healthcare IT News
  2. Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)
  3. HIMSS Analytics
  4. HIMSS Europe
  5. HIMSS Asia Pacific
  6. HIMSS Middle East
  7. HIMSS Global Solutions
  8. HIMSS Innovation Center
  9. HIMSS Interoperability Showcase
  10. HIMSS Media
  11. Healthcare Finance News
  12. mHealth News
  13. Government Health IT
  14. Medical Practice Insider
  15. HIMSS Conference
  16. HealthIT.gov
  17. The US Health Resources and Services Administration
  18. Fierce Health IT
  19. Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel
  20. Health IT Security

Internal Resources

Relevant Blogs

  1. Improving Quality of Care by Improving Continuity of Care: How Health IT makes it Possible
  2. Using Social Media to Increase Healthcare Engagement
  3. Networked Wellness Systems to Improve Drug Compliance in Chronic Care Management
  4. e-Health and Telemedicine: 5 Examples of Growth in the GCC Today

Relevant News Articles

  1. HIMSS14: Health IT is Critical to Transform Rural Healthcare
  2. Use of Mobile Technology by Physicians in Healthcare Organizations is Increasing, HIMSS Survey Says
  3. Nursing Informatics is Adding Value to Healthcare but Faces Many Challenges, Experts at HIMSS14 Say
  4. HIMSS14 Kick-Starts with Focus on Meaningful Use, Patient Safety and Privacy & Security Concerns
  5. Telemedicine Can Generate Savings by Reducing Hospitalizations of Nursing Home Residents
  6. GE Launches Industrial Internet and Cloud-Based Solutions at the Arab Health Congress 2014

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