National Partnership for Women & Families

The Potential of Health IT

Health IT alone will not solve the problems facing our health system, but its implementation and effective use can provide a foundation for improvement. Electronic health systems, when used in appropriate and meaningful ways, can benefit individuals through:

  • Improved communication and coordination;
  • Not having to repeat tests when information isn’t available when and where it is needed;
  • Direct access to their own health information;
  • Better informed medical decisions;
  • Safer and more efficient transitions of care;
  • Improved privacy and security of patient health information through electronic monitoring and access controls;
  • Fewer medication errors and harmful drug interactions;
  • Improved ability to detect, prevent and manage health conditions; and
  • More reliable and effective means of supporting patients in their self-care.

The exchange of electronic information can help address major problems in our health care system by:

  • Improving overall health care quality while reducing costs;
  • Facilitating early identification/rapid response to public health emergencies;
  • Improving efforts to reduce health disparities;
  • Addressing unmet health needs through collection of information needed to understand the health of a population; and
  • Facilitating clinical research and better access to research studies and their results.

Simply automating our current system of care won’t bring better care, healthier communities, and wiser use of our health care dollars. The real opportunity health IT presents is to redesign how the system works, beginning with the incentives offered for the meaningful use of health IT. Consumers play specific and critical roles in this process, and can be a game-changing force in making our health care system more patient-centered through better access to and use of information. For more information on how health IT can impact consumers, click here

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