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Health Information Technology

Health information technology (HIT) refers to any technology that enables the recording of and access to patient health information. HIT includes the use of electronic medical records to collect and store patient health information, as well as the technology and standards necessary for this information to be available to physicians at the point of care — regardless of where and when the information was originally collected.

Within our health care system there is great potential for improved efficiency, quality, and safety through the use of HIT. Adoption of HIT is an important building block to support preventive, predictive medicine and early disease intervention and to enable higher quality, more efficient health care.

The provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act (as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) represent an unprecedented investment at the federal level in the development of a nationwide health information infrastructure. Policymakers, health care providers, HIT professionals, and various other stakeholders are striving to create a secure, interoperable electronic medical record (EMR) for every American.

To foster the evolution of personalized medicine through HIT:

  • The system adopted should build in information on personalized care. It should make it possible for physicians and patients to compare the risk-benefit trade-offs for a range of treatment options and evaluate differences based on genetic make-up.
  • E-prescribing platforms should be integrated with electronic medical records so that personalized information such as diagnostic test results and co-morbidities can be considered in decision making. The system should enable physicians to quickly and easily obtain prior authorization or make appeals to payers based on molecular diagnostics or other personalized medical information.
  • Clinical standards incorporated into HIT specifications should support providers in tailoring care to the needs of the individual, rather than creating incentives to deliver the cheapest care to all patients based on one-size-fits-all "best practice" standards.