Ask your neighbor or a nurse about the use of information technology (IT) in healthcare, and chances are they’ll talk to you about electronic health records, which dominate public discussion about health IT.
Electronic health records are a good first step, but represent only one aspect of how IT can improve America’s healthcare system by making it seamless and safer.
There’s so much more that technology can do in healthcare.
Today – as in, right now – there are practical, high-tech solutions that reduce medical errors and save lives. As the federal government gears up to provide billions of dollars in financial incentives to physicians and hospitals over the next few years to incorporate health IT into their daily workflow in caring for patients, it’s important to ensure these life-saving solutions are broadly implemented, so that taxpayer money pays for something more – and something more meaningful – than electronic health records alone.
The federal government is currently deciding what technologies it will give financial incentives to providers and hospitals for adopting, and what technologies it won’t subsidize. The term the government is using to describe its decision is “meaningful use.” If a technology has a meaningful use in improving patient care and outcomes, the government will help providers and hospitals pay for it. If it doesn’t, then the government won’t help pay for the technology. The definition of “meaningful use” is what the government is wrestling to come up with now. The final decision will affect the lives of anyone who provides or receives care in the American health system.