Over the years, technology has improved the healthcare industry by providing an easier way to deliver efficient and coordinated care to patients. Now, organizations seek out individuals skilled in health information technology to ensure patient care doesn’t suffer as technology becomes the norm.
What Is Health Information Technology?
According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the term “health information technology” (or health IT) refers to the “electronic systems healthcare professionals and patients use to store, share and analyze health information.”
The most common system includes the electronic medical record (EMR), which stores patients’ critical health information. Other common systems include personal health records and e-prescribing systems that allow physicians to send electronic prescriptions to pharmacies. Some systems allow patients to track their various health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
The Continued Evolution of Health Information Technology
Health IT has come a long way over the past 100 years. In fact, the first medical records emerged in the 1920s, when professionals began using paper records to document patient care. From the 1920s to around 1965, paper records were the norm. In 1965, hospitals began testing the first electronic medical records.
That same year, Medicare and Medicaid were introduced to the public, solidifying the need for accurate record keeping. Many companies throughout the 1960s and 1970s were inspired to create some of the first management systems, including Eclipsys (now modern-day Allscripts, a common EMR).
Many advancements occurred between the 1970s and 2009 (including the introduction of the world wide web) that inspired President Barack Obama to call for full adoption of electronic health records by 2014. Finally, within a couple of years, electronic medical records became the norm.
The Health IT of Today
Today, organizations are focusing on improving current health IT systems and implementing new technology to improve patient care. For example, some companies are currently testing wearable devices that monitor patient health and send resulting data directly to patient records. Other healthcare organizations are beginning to seek the help of the Cloud instead of data centers for easier sharing of patient data.
This is only scratching the surface of the advancements in the works. As technology continues to evolve, it’s projected that the healthcare information technology market will grow to over $441 billion by 2025. This is great news for those considering a career in health IT.
The Importance of Health Information Technology
In this digital age, health information technology is of utmost importance. Health information technology improves interoperability, or the ability to share patient information between organizations. Via coordination between the systems used, healthcare teams can provide patients with higher quality and more cost-effective care.
This is only one of the many benefits of health information technology. Other benefits include:
- Increased patient safety: Electronic medical records allow providers to communicate testing, medical history, medications and more for each patient accurately across the healthcare system, increasing patient safety.
- Decreased medical errors: Accurate patient data held inside electronic records decreases the chances of a deadly medication reaction in addition to many other possible medical errors.
- Enhanced interaction between patients and care providers: Via online messaging portals and other tools existing inside records, health IT fosters communication between patients and providers.
Health IT also improves day-to-day activities for doctors, nurses and others using electronic medical records. For example, it reduces paperwork and the legwork required to transfer patient information between providers. It also reduces the need to order unnecessary tests and procedures by eliminating duplicate orders from multiple physicians.
What Do Health Information Technologists Do?
Health information technologists are responsible for recording patient information into these systems and managing the systems themselves. Recorded information includes procedures, medical diagnoses, symptoms and medical history. Once recorded, technologists may also assist physicians with accessing patient information while ensuring the data stays secure.
Health IT technologists may work as medical coders, ensuring proper treatment and diagnosis codes accompany insurance reimbursement forms. They may also work in condition-specific roles such as the role of cancer registrar, where they gather health information from cancer patients for research.
As technology continues to evolve, so will the role of the health information technologist. Becoming a health IT technologist opens many doors of possibility for your career.
Where Do Health Information Technologists Work?
Health information technologists have the ability to work in virtually any healthcare organization that requires electronic medical record handling. Some of these organizations may include:
- Record management companies
- Outpatient care facilities
- Physician offices
- Surgical centers
- Mental health facilities
Become a Health Information Technologist With Cambridge
Cambridge College of Healthcare & Technology’s Health Information Technology program provides students with the skills they need for career success, from medical terminology to coding. Our online 75-week program includes in-depth courses, hands-on training and a practicum for practicing your skills.
Get Started Towards a Health Information Technology Career Today
Health IT is a rapidly growing field, full of possibility for those interested in the healthcare industry. Are you ready to get started towards a rewarding career in health information technology? All it takes is a step. To learn more about our program or to apply today, give us a call at 877-206-4279. We can’t wait to help you reach career success.