It’s impossible to truly appreciate the current state of health IT in the U.S. without reflecting on how far we’ve come and where we have been. Not that long ago, all records were captured on paper. Charts could only be shared via fax machine or courier. You saw your local doctor at your local hospital for everything. Accessing healthcare information was difficult and tedious.
Monumental advances have been made in the last 20 years that have improved the way the healthcare industry delivers patient care and the way the public expects to be treated. Not only is the industry increasingly reliant on technology, our patients are tech savvy and expect to be treated as such.
One of the most important, and highly debated, elements of our society is the quality of healthcare available to patients. And, undeniably, a driving force behind quality healthcare is the adoption of technology that enables clinicians to provide better patient care. U.S. National Health IT (NHIT) Week is an opportunity to highlight the value and importance of information and technology in healthcare throughout the country. With an increased reliance on technology, it’s important to take the time to convey the mutual benefits for patients and providers to the public and policy makers that rely on health IT and influence its use.
Technology’s role in healthcare has expanded exponentially over the last 20 years and figures to increase in conjunction with our societal technological advancements. Our ability to store, share and analyze health information is directly tied to improved technology. The use of technology increases provider capabilities and patient access while improving the quality of life for some patients and saving the lives of others. We’re moving into an era where physicians can see patients remotely and accurately diagnose a patient’s problems, even in the most rural areas, through telemedicine. We’ve progressed from using technology to improve patient care and the healthcare industry, to impacting our society as a whole.
However, the industry is entering a pivotal era. As EHR adoption increases, will the technology movement grow stale? Will it plateau or continue to evolve to support the new challenges faced by the industry and society? Odds are it will continue to evolve as technology evolves and technological capabilities offer new ways to treat, communicate and care for patients.
With the changes in health IT over the last two decades, and those yet to come, the question isn’t whether we should promote health IT throughout the nation. More appropriately, the question becomes can we afford not to?
The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.
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Updated March 29, 2020