Health information technology (HIT) allows comprehensive management of medical information and its secure exchange between health care consumers and providers.
Broad use of health IT will:
- Improve health care quality
- Prevent medical errors
- Reduce health care costs
- Increase administrative efficiencies
- Decrease paperwork
- Expand access to affordable care
A wide range of products exist that are used to support the collection, storage and exchange of patient data. Electronic medical or health records, practice management systems and electronic prescribing are all different types of HIT applications.
Implementing HIT into your practice is a major decision which can be very overwhelming. Prior to implementation, you will need to assess your practice’s particular needs and/or which types of HIT applications will benefit your practice.
Understanding HIT Applications
Before deciding the particular needs of your practice and where HIT will apply, review the following brief descriptions and definitions of the applications and systems currently available.
Practice management systems (PM)
These applications (or systems) electronically manage coding, billing, scheduling, registration, etc. These systems electronically and efficiently handle the business side of your practice. These are the most common forms of HIT, and most physicians have already implemented a PM system. If you have an existing PM system and are looking to add HIT applications, you should ensure that your PM system can “talk to” or “interface” with other applications. Programming to ensure connectivity or interfacing could cost additional money. Also, data entered into the PM system should be updated to/from any additional HIT applications to avoid having staff perform double entries.
Electronic health records (EHR) or Electronic medical records (EMR)
These applications (or systems) electronically manage the clinical side of your practice. At minimum, they are designed to store and facilitate the documentation performed in a physician practice such as scheduling, a patient’s medical record (chart), lab results, test results, health history, allergies, insurance information, medication history, etc. Most systems build on these basics and offer other features such as data exchange between physicians, diagnosis or medication reporting, generation of education material for specific conditions, etc. The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) was recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a certifying body in 2006, and is the only organization to have received federal approval to certify health IT products and systems. HHS recognition has been renewed annually. In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) states all EHRs qualifying for the incentive payments must be deemed “meaningful” and most health care leaders believe CCHIT will be the likely source to continue to certify EHRs.
For a list of EHR vendors certified through CCHIT, go here.
Electronic prescribing (e-prescribing or eRx)
E-prescribing means the transmission, using electronic media, of prescription-related information between the physician, the pharmacy and the health plan using an intermediary network. These applications (or systems) allow for two-way transmission between the physician and the pharmacy, providing better quality of care by ensuring more accurate and appropriate dispensing of medication. E-prescribing applications allow the physician to manage patients’ prescriptions via computer, which could be accessible off-site. Physicians can view drug interactions, drug coverage and insurance information, while receiving electronic notification when refills are due and approving generic substitutions. Physicians can also have access to a patient’s allergy and prescription histories, even if the patient utilized other pharmacies.
Go to here to learn about the largest electronic prescribing network.
For information about Regional Extension Centers that can assist you with EHR, see this ISMA Reports article, "Indiana’s Regional Extension Centers are now open and waiting to assist you."
To connect with the statewide Indiana Health Information Technology Extension Center see the Purdue website.
To connect with HealthBridge Tri-State Regional Extension Center (coverings 19 Indiana counties) visit the HealthBridge website.
For a more detailed sitemap click here.