Communication is a vital part of healthcare, and improving communication is one of the main goals of healthcare information technology. But communication can only work if there's a common understanding of all the terms and meanings involved, so here we have defined ten important health IT buzzwords and what they mean both to IT professionals and healthcare professionals alike.
Interoperability: This is the ability of two different electronic medical record systems to communicate with each other, and share and transfer information. A patient likely sees numerous different doctors at numerous facilities over the course of their lifetime, but each of those doctors needs to have the best possible information about that patient's health history, so the EHR systems need to be able to work together.
Mobile Health: This is the accessibility and exchange of health information through wireless networks for mobile devices such as personal laptops, tablets, phones, and mobile medical devices. Mobile health can be a huge part of making care more efficient and convenient for patients.
Health Information Exchange (HIE): When systems have interoperability, a health information exchange can take place. Basically it means electronic health records are shared so that providers have the most up-to-date information.
Patient Engagement: This term refers to patient involvement in their own healthcare through mobile health, patient portals, or even devices like fitness trackers. Patient engagement in care can lead to more thorough medical records and more effective preventative care.
Population Health: Many in health IT hope that by using demographic, geographic, and health record information, healthcare professionals will be able to identify potential trends and gaps in patient care. This is population health management.
Internet of Things: This is a term that isn't only used in health IT, but increasingly used throughout our lives as more and more devices are connected to the internet. In health IT, it refers to the idea of devices like pacemakers, defibrillators, and monitors connecting directly to the internet to transfer data to healthcare providers.
Electronic Prescriptions: Instead of the old prescription pad method, a doctor sends a prescription directly to a pharmacy electronically. Electronic prescribing is becoming more and more common, partly because it can help save time and money, and partly because it creates important records to pharmacists and physicians.
Meaningful Use: The meaningful use guidelines set specific objectives that healthcare professionals and hospitals must achieve to qualify for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Incentive Programs. There are three stages of meaningful use compliance. Read more here.
Big Data: This is one of those terms that is difficult to define, but basically it means all data collected in EHRs for a patient or group of patients as a whole. Data analysis can help physicians determine patterns, trends, and even assist with preventative care.
Clinical Decision Support: Any technology that provides physician assistance with a diagnosis or treatment.