If you're like most Ohioans, you've probably noticed that computers are playing a larger role in your regular visits to the doctor. Your nurse may enter your vital signs into a laptop computer or other portable device, and the doctor may use a computer to read test results and send prescriptions directly to the pharmacist. So, does this reliance on technology benefit the health provider or the patient? In a guest post, Dr. Ted Wymyslo, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, explains how health information technology is good for Ohioans.
Health information technology (IT) gives healthcare providers the support they need to provide healthcare that is truly patient-centered, not only when patients are in their office but also when they are not. The adoption of electronic health records and the use of electronic health information exchanges are providing more effective healthcare, and saving time, money and even lives.
Health IT means that healthcare providers can spend more time interacting directly with their patients while simultaneously ensuring that prescriptions are filled faster, appointments are scheduled more efficiently and patients have better access to their personal information.
How is this done? It all happens with computer software. Such software can enable a pharmacy to get information about prescriptions as soon as healthcare providers type in the information on their computer. Software can also automatically track when a patient is due for a check-up or procedure and send that patient an email reminder to contact the office for scheduling. In addition, health IT can allow the healthcare provider to establish a password-protected Web page where the patient can log in to see everything from their blood pressure level to their shot records to their next scheduled appointment.
Health IT also enables healthcare providers to better work together within a medical office. With this tool, the patient-center medical home (PCMH) model of care is helping transform healthcare in Ohio. In the PCMH model, coordination of the patient's care is enhanced by the primary care provider who serves as the hub for a team of clinicians working together to coordinate the patient's care. This care team greatly benefits from using health information technology to electronically share information with one another.
Health information exchanges allow information to be shared electronically between different healthcare entities. Electronic records allow different providers (such as doctor's offices and hospitals) to easily share accurate, comprehensive medical information and test results with patients and other providers, which eliminates the duplication of tests and other procedures, and reduces medical errors. This allows healthcare providers to deliver high quality patient care on a whole new level.
As we enter national Health IT Week, which lasts from Sept. 10 to 14, I am pleased to say that Ohio has made tremendous progress in using health information technology to improve the health of Ohio residents.
Through working with organizations like the Ohio Health Information Partnership and HealthBridge, more than 7,500 primary care providers statewide have committed to incorporating health IT into their patient care.
Moreover, the important role that health IT plays in patient care is recognized by the governor's Office of Health Transformation (OHT). OHT recognizes that health IT is essential to their mission of modernizing Medicaid, streamlining Ohio's health and human services programs and improving Ohio's health system performance.
In 2011, Ohio was chosen by the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT to be one of five states in the country selected to accelerate the use of electronic health records in ways that improve patient care. Ohio is successfully leading the way in modernizing healthcare delivery for its residents.
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