The average person often doesn’t think about healthcare software. They often don’t think about how it affects the medical industry as a whole either. But its impact has revolutionized patient care on a global scale. The implementation of these systems in hospitals and practices have monumental effects. Every year more healthcare providers are taking steps to change the way their business manages their internal processes.
But choosing the right one for your business can be confusing. There are several categories of healthcare information technology (HIT) and with many of these software sharing similar capabilities, it’s not easy to distinguish one from the next. That’s why we’ve made a primer to help you break down the basics.
What is Health Information Technology?
Before we dive in too far, let’s define what health information technology actually is. In the broadest sense, HIT is the application of information technology to healthcare. It’s another way to describe the comprehensive management of information among consumers, clinicians, government, quality entities and insurers.
The use of health information technology improves the quality and effectiveness of healthcare. It promotes individual and public health and increases the accuracy of diagnoses. The software also reduces costs and medical errors, while improving the efficiency of both administrative and clinical processes.
How Many Categories Are There?
There are three main categories of healthcare information technology and four “subcategories.” You’ll find these exist in both hospitals and physician offices and are beneficial for all types of providers.
As the name implies, practice management software (PM) helps you manage different administrative and clinical aspects of your practice. This software centralizes various systems so you can run things more efficiently. It automates almost every task that fits under the “health information management” umbrella.
PM software takes away stress and helps you optimize your time. Your overall goal is to help you provide better short- and long-term patient care, and with the correct system in place, you’ll exceed patient expectations.
Electronic medical record (EMR) systems are one of the most popular medical software categories. EMRs replaced paper records by digitizing medical charting, making digital versions of charts and patient histories. These systems can also alert you when patients are due for preventive procedures and screenings. In addition, EMRs help physicians treat patients by looking at their history and comparing their health data against past entries.
Electronic health record (EHR) systems function similarly to EMRs, though the former is a more robust system overall. EHRs allow you to check a patient’s history, diagnoses, treatments, medications, allergies, X-rays, test results and more.
One major difference to note is how information is shared by each. Data from EMRs can only be viewed within one office while EHRs can share patient data with other EHRs. If a patient moves or goes to an emergency room, they can be properly treated because different physicians will have access to their information.
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