The Evolving Role of Information Technology (IT) in Healthcare

The healthcare industry is rapidly evolving, and technology is playing an increasingly critical role in driving these changes forward.

Healthcare Information Technology (IT)

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What is Information Technology in Healthcare?

Health Information Technology (HIT) is an umbrella term used to describe the use of technology in healthcare, which encompasses a wide range of applications and tools that facilitate the management, storage, and exchange of patient information. This includes electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine, mobile health apps, wearable devices, and more.

Electronic health records (EHRs) are digital versions of a patient's medical record that are accessible by authorized healthcare providers. EHRs have replaced traditional paper-based records and have streamlined the process of documenting patient information. Additionally, they make it simpler for healthcare professionals to communicate and work together on patient care.

Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, is the use of technology to provide remote healthcare services, such as video consultations or virtual appointments. Telemedicine has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it allows patients to receive medical care without leaving their homes.

Mobile health apps and wearable devices are also part of the HIT (Health Information Technology) umbrella. These technologies have enabled patients to monitor their health in real-time and provide healthcare providers with valuable data to improve patient care. For example, patients can use mobile apps to track their exercise, diet, and sleep, and wearable devices can measure vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure.

Overall, technology information in healthcare has revolutionized the way medical care is delivered and has opened up new possibilities for patients and providers alike.

Examples of Health Information Technology

The use of information systems in healthcare technology can be found at various levels, from the consumer to the provider to the larger healthcare network. Here are some examples of health information systems and platforms at different levels:

Consumer Level

At the consumer level, health IT can include mobile apps, wearable devices, and other tools that allow individuals to track their health status, monitor their fitness goals, and manage their medication.

Some examples include:

  • Mobile apps:

    • MyFitnessPal
    • Fitbit
    • Apple Health
    • Samsung Health
  • Wearable devices:

    • Apple Watch
    • Garmin Vivosmart
    • Fitbit Charge
    • Oura Ring

Provider Level

At the provider level, health IT can include electronic health records (EHRs), telehealth systems, and other tools that allow healthcare providers to manage patient care and communicate with other providers.

Some examples include:

  • Electronic health records (EHRs):

    • Epic
    • Cerner
    • Allscripts
  • Decision support systems:

    • UpToDate
    • DynaMed
    • Isabel

Healthcare Network Level

At the larger healthcare network level, health IT can include Health Information Exchange (HIE) platforms, patient portals, and other tools that allow healthcare organizations to share patient data and improve population health.

Some examples include:

  • Health Information Exchange (HIE) platforms:

    • CommonWell Health Alliance
    • Carequality
    • Health Information Network
  • Patient portals:

    • MyChart
    • EpicCare Link
    • AthenaNet
  • Population health management platforms:

    • IBM Watson Health
    • Health Catalyst

In summary, healthcare information services, systems and platforms can be found at all levels of healthcare, from the consumer to the provider to the larger healthcare network. These tools help individuals, healthcare providers, and organizations to better manage patient care, improve health outcomes, and enhance communication and collaboration among healthcare stakeholders.

Biggest Issues in Health IT Today

There are several threats and concerns that healthcare organizations and life sciences companies face with regard to IT. Some of the biggest ones include:

  • Data breaches and cyber attacks:

    Healthcare organizations hold a lot of sensitive information about patients, research, and intellectual property. This makes them prime targets for hackers and cybercriminals who want to steal this information for financial gain or other purposes.

    Did you know? According to the HIPAA Journal, In 2022, an average of 1.94 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records were reported each day.

  • Regulatory compliance:

    Healthcare organizations and life sciences companies are subject to strict regulations, such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in the United States and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the European Union. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in significant fines and legal penalties.

  • Data management and storage:

    Healthcare organizations generate and store massive amounts of data, including electronic health records, clinical trial data, and research data. Ensuring that this data is managed and stored securely, and that it can be accessed quickly and easily when needed, is a major challenge.

    Did you know? According to MarketsandMarkets, the global healthcare cloud computing market was estimated to be worth 39.4 billion in revenue in 2022. This number is trending toward 89.4 billion by 2027!

If you are in the healthcare industry, working with a HIPAA-compliant vendor can make all the difference. These companies have implemented the necessary security and privacy controls to protect sensitive data and comply with regulations.

Learn more about how Giva can help your organization remain compliant in the cloud!

The Bottom Line: Adapt or Risk Being Left Behind!

Information technology's place in healthcare is quickly changing and making a significant impact on the industry. Healthcare information systems have revolutionized the way medical professionals collect, manage, and use patient data, making it easier to access and safeguard. The benefits of health information technology are extensive, including improved patient outcomes, enhanced efficiency, and reduced costs.

As the healthcare sector continues to grow and change, it is increasingly important for healthcare providers to adapt to and embrace these new technologies to provide the highest quality care to their patients or risk being left behind.