Each industry has its own type of information technology and a particular group of terms that goes along with it. Healthcare is no exception in this regard. In fact, healthcare has even more industry-specific terms than most other business sectors do. That's partly because of its complexity and also because it's going through a radical change in how products are delivered and paid for.
Healthcare has a large number of moving parts that include many kinds of care providers, each of which has its own type of information systems. The systems that a hospital uses are different from those of a physician practice, and both kinds of systems differ greatly from the IT used by pharmacies, home health agencies and nursing homes. Moreover, a large medical center may have dozens or even hundreds of different systems across its departments and medical equipment.
Healthcare is also very fragmented. While there are huge healthcare systems that encompass everything from soup to nuts (think Kaiser Permanente), there are myriad healthcare providers of every stripe in the country's metropolitan areas. A large number of IT vendors supply this giant market. Just in ambulatory care – care provided outside of the hospital – there are hundreds of electronic health records (EHR) vendors, although about a dozen of them divide most of the market.
While healthcare has a reputation for being resistant to IT, physicians and nurses are not technophobes. Even before EHRs came along, they welcomed medical advances that depended heavily on new technology. A small but enthusiastic cadre of physicians pioneered the early EHRs. But healthcare providers want IT to support them in providing better care without increasing their workload. Unfortunately, the systems that have been developed up to now require them to spend more time on documentation than they used to, reducing their productivity. EHRs also change their workflow. So even though there is some evidence that health IT has improved the quality of care, many physicians are frustrated and unhappy with their EHRs.
This brief overview of the health IT landscape only begins to convey the breadth and complexity of the field. The following glossary provides more information on what health IT is all about.
Table of contents:
- Electronic health records
Ambulatory care EHRs, Cloud-based EHRs, EHR security, Electronic health records (EHRs), Electronic prescribing, Health information exchange (HIE), Hospital information systems, PACS/VNA, Patient portals, Pharmacy systems
- Healthcare financial management
Activity-based cost accounting, Admission-transferdischarge (ADT) systems, Business & clinical intelligence, Claims clearinghouses, Computer assisted coding (CAC), Electronic payment posting and funds transfer, Patient cost accounting systems, Patient scheduling systems, Practice management (PM) systems Revenue cycle management
- Government healthcare regulations
Direct messaging, EHR certification, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), FDA mHealth regulations, HIPAA ICD-10, Interoperability, Meaningful use, Medicare fraud and abuse audits, Telehealth regulations
- Mobile health and telehealth
Apple HealthKit, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), eICU and telestroke, Mobile health, Mobile-native EHRs, Remote patient monitoring, Secure messaging, Telehealth, Virtual visits, Wearable sensors
- Healthcare reform
Automation tools, Data warehouses, Physician performance measurement, Population health management (PHM), Predictive modeling, Quality measurement and reporting, Referral tracking, Registries, Risk management tools, Risk stratification
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