How can health IT improve the quality of health care?

Better information means better health care.

Traditionally, your primary care physician has been expected to act as the central hub for all your medical records, including laboratory results, tests and records sent from other doctors. But sometimes -- when you change doctors, when providers have out-of-date information, or simply when procedures aren’t followed correctly -- this system can break down. Health information technology (health IT) offers a better way of establishing that hub.

Consider for a moment all the different types of information that make up your medical record and all the different places that information can come from like the following:
  • Medical history, including diagnoses, medications and allergies, from current and past doctors, emergency facilities and school clinics
  • Immunization history, from current and past doctors, school clinics, workplace clinics, health departments, pharmacies and emergency facilities
  • Laboratory results, from physician office labs, hospital labs and independent labs
  • Medical imaging, from a doctor’s office, radiology offices, hospital radiology departments and independent imaging centers
Electronic health records (EHRs) and personal health records (PHRs) are advancements in health care that offer a way to create a comprehensive health record that includes all of your health information: a record that is up to date, complete, accurate and in your hands, or the hands of your doctoror your family when it’s needed. Health IT makes all of your providers more knowledgeable about you and better able to work with you to make more informed decisions about your health.

EHRs can also enhance routine medical care by reminding your doctor about the timing of appropriate preventive services for your general well-being or about specific issues related to managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.

Much like the EHR, the PHR can also be an electronic storage “hub” for all your most important health information. It’s possible for you to create your own PHR using consumer-friendly software and online services.Your PHR is all about you; you decide whether to create one, you choose how to use it to improve your own health, and therefore what to put in it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.