Health Information Technology is a Great Big HIT

Information technology

Health Information Technology -or HIT- is the implementation of information technology into the field of healthcare. Information technology (IT) includes all forms of technology that are employed to create, store, exchange and use information. Therefore, health IT has to do with the consolidation of health information from multiple paper-based sources into a single electronic source that can be instantly and simultaneously updated and accessed in real time through several platforms, such as computers, mobile devices, and the Internet. HIT can improve and increase the quality, effectiveness, accuracy and productivity of healthcare; prevent medical errors; decrease healthcare costs, paperwork, and idle time; and make affordable care more accessible. The more significant manifestation of health information technology is the Electronic Health Record, also known as EHR.

Paper-based record



Easy to misfile.


Fully searchable and backed up on server files.

Seldom include complex and difficult to memorize preventive care guidelines.

Links charts to preventive care guidelines and updates info as it changes.

Difficult and time-consuming identification of patient characteristics.

Patient characteristics fully searchable and linked to patient history.

Drug recalls are difficult to communicate and cross-reference with affected patients.

Can flag files for drug recalls and updates.

Not suitable for chronic diseases management.

Sets up and manages patient groups.

Pulling charts and refilling takes precious time.

Instantly updates and electronically files charts.

Appointment reminders must be sent each day

Sends automatic appointment reminders.

Scheduling coordinated by staff member.

Automated scheduling.

Insurance cards are copied and the info keyed in.

Scans insurance cards and immediately puts them into the system.

Staff member communicates about billing issues.

Sends billing reminders.

Clinical encounter information transcribed and retyped into chart causes human error.

Reduces possibilities of human error.


Every doctor you have ever seen and every hospital that you have ever been admitted to keeps a paper medical record or chart. These records may include such information –from current and previous doctors and facilities- as:

  • Your medical history (diagnoses, medications, and allergies).
  • Your immunization history.
  • Your lab results.
  • Your medical radiology imaging.

As we are about to see, electronic health records benefit you as an individual and your family as well, but also help the country as a whole.

Families and individuals’ health

Country’s health

Reduced paperwork

Doctors and hospitals have more access to more data more quickly, resulting in fewer and shorter forms to complete.

Identification of safety problems

Providers in some areas can use EHR to find and notify patients at risk for problems related to unsafe drugs or medical devices.

Accurate info to the people who need it

When all of your providers share your info, each of them has access to more accurate and updated info.

Detection of epidemics

EHR can be used to find unexpected increases in diseases within a community.

Coordinated care and safety

EHRs can warn different providers if they try to prescribe a drug that could cause interaction and alert one of your doctors if another has already prescribed a drug that did not work out for you.

General improvement of healthcare

Researchers, public health departments, and others can improve care by exploring treatment and outcome data for thousands or millions of patients, while respecting patient privacy as per federal law.

Reduced extraneous test and procedures

All of your providers have access to all your test results and records, reducing the potential for repeat tests.



Direct personal access to health records

Some providers with EHR systems give patients direct, private and secure access to their health information online.



Quicker and more precise prescriptions

Electronic prescribing automatically sends orders to the pharmacy, which can be picked up as soon as you arrive.




In a nutshell, the goal of HIT is to achieve optimal Health Information Exchange (HIE) by way of interoperability. HIE is the back-and-forth flow of information between two or more organizations or systems, while interoperability is the ability of those systems to move that information successfully. The U.S. government encourages the meaningful use of HIT by awarding bonuses to hospitals and doctors that use EHR to better care quality, decrease errors, and increase efficiency in order to provide patients with faster access to information and a summary of each visit, help protect privacy, prevent drug errors, and make information accessible and shareable with other doctors in accordance with the patient’s preferences.

In addition to EHR, health IT also allows patients to keep personal health records, or PHR. Your PHR is both independent from and compatible with the EHR that your doctor or doctors keep. You can set up and manage your PHR through a healthcare or health insurance provider, or create your own with other software or an online application. You can store emergency contacts, allergies, conditions, drugs (prescription and OTC), immunization dates, and lab results in your PHR, and you can customize the data as you see fit.

To put the importance of HIT in perspective, just think of that old joke about the proverbial lousy handwriting of doctors. Seriously though, prescribing errors are the largest identified source of preventable errors in hospitals. However, a type of healthcare information technology known as computerized provider order entry (CPOE) is able to minimize medication error rates by 80%. As a result HIT renders that age-old gag as little more than an anachronism, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Related Read: