Health information technology (HIT) refers to the use of computerized or digital systems and health information management across the process of healthcare delivery and for a secure collection, storage, and exchange of health-related information. Common examples include electronic health records (EHR), clinical decision support, computerized provider order entry (CPOE), and telehealth. The biggest benefit of implementing such technology is known as value-based healthcare, where the quality of care is provided at an optimized cost of maximum patient benefit.
This is done through data collection and analytics, which evaluates optimal outcomes and measures costs based on patient and population levels (Meinert, Alturkistani, Brindley, Knight, Wells, & de Pennington, 2018). Another benefit of HIT is efficiency and transparency as integrating aspects of health records, treatment outcomes, and updated cost information allows for proper funding and expansion of services and for providers to understand time-driven activity and costs (Devine & O’Clock, 2014).
A significant challenge that HIT implementation faces is cost and uptake. Integrating new systems is highly expensive and requires change that not many, especially of the aging workforce, may support. The technology is complex, requiring servers, new infrastructure, and software development. Furthermore, with the rapid development of both hardware and software technology, it must be constantly updated to remain safe, effective, and secure.
While the government does attempt to encourage and subsidize the transition, a majority of costs fall on medical facilities that do not recoup itself for many years. Another risk is cybersecurity concerns as patient data is stored and exchanged. Health organizations have become targets for cyber attacks as big data, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things are used in various aspects of value-based health delivery.
This concerns many health and political leaders, wary of the rapid adoption of modern technology (Meinert et al., 2018). Both these challenges can be mitigated to some extent by developing new policy frameworks which offer funding and support for the systems. With the proper foundation, safety guidelines, and staff education, as well as continuous funding to maintain the HIT systems up-to-date, it becomes much easier to integrate them on a larger scale across healthcare systems, potentially lowering costs. Similarly, numerous protection methods exist to ensure cybersecurity, and if administrators focus on these aspects, risk mitigation becomes possible.
Devine, K., & O’Clock, P. (2014). An analysis of the benefits of technology implementation in the healthcare industry. Journal of Health Care Finance, 41(3), 1-10. Web.
Meinert, E., Alturkistani, A., Brindley, D., Knight, P., Wells, G., & de Pennington, N. (2018). Weighing benefits and risks in aspects of security, privacy and adoption of technology in a value-based healthcare system. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 18(1). Web.