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What is Health Information Technology?

Swapnil Srivastava
Health Information Technology is the future of health care and a perfect blend of medical research and information technology.
Health Information Technology (HIT) primarily refers to a range of products and services for the management of a patient's medical information. It helps the concerned doctors to access or exchange that information with each other, and also with the patients, in order to provide better medication and cure.
HIT has the potential to make healthcare system safer, more effective, and more efficient. Its application on macro level will be very useful for saving money in the long run, as well as in making health care more responsive to the people's needs. It holds great promise to revolutionize healthcare sector and improve the treatment of a patient by centralizing his/her medical records for authorized usage.


As health information technology would be a national database system for the patient's information and health records, it will be easily accessible to all the healthcare centers. For instance, suppose a person living in California goes on a vacation to Florida, and meets with an accident or contracts a local disease there.
In such a situation, his medical records could be easily transferred, and thus, rapid treatment could be provided accordingly. Thus, the doctor in Florida would be having complete access to his treatment history and would not prescribe a drug that would react unfavorably to that prescribed earlier. With a paper-based record maintenance system, the quick transfer of patient's information will almost be next to impossible. Following are some more benefits of HIT:
  • Improved health care quality and safety of the patient
  • Reduced medical errors and increased accuracy and procedural correctness
  • Reduced paperwork and easier access to information
  • Reduced cost of treatment in the long run, both for patients and healthcare providers
  • Information of patients' health insurance policies can also be stored and retrieved in/from the database.


Although it comes with many benefits, there are a few challenges with respect to implementation and adoption that include:
  • The cost of treatment has decreased; however, in the long run, the upfront cost for the implementation of the whole system will be very high.
  • Medical professionals would have to undergo training processes and alter some of their current practices in order to accommodate the new system.
  • The medical records of a patient may become more vulnerable to hacking.
The idea of this technology appeals to be a promising one, as the potential benefits outweigh the possible drawbacks. Components of this technology, such as Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), bar-code scanners for administration, and computerized decision support systems, can surely help to limit the errors and provide the best possible treatment to the patients.