The application of information processing involving both computer hardware and software that deals with the storage, retrieval, sharing, and use of health care information, data, and knowledge for communication and decision making.

(Health IT) encompasses:

Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) – A computer application that allows a physician’s orders for diagnostic and treatment services (such as medications, laboratory, and other tests) to be entered electronically instead of being recorded on order sheets or prescription pads. The computer compares the order against standards for dosing, checks for allergies or interactions with other medications, and warns the physician about potential problems.

Decision-Support System (DSS) - Computer tools or applications to assist physicians in clinical decisions by providing evidence-based knowledge in the context of patient specific data. Examples include drug interaction alerts at the time medication is prescribed and reminders for specific guideline-based interventions during the care of patients with chronic disease. Information should be presented in a patient-centric view of individual care and also in a population or aggregate view to support population management and quality improvement.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) - A real-time patient health record with access to evidence-based decision support tools that can be used to aid clinicians in decision making. The EHR can automate and streamline a clinician's workflow, ensuring that all clinical information is communicated. It can also prevent delays in response that result in gaps in care. The EHR can also support the collection of data for uses other than clinical care, such as billing, quality management, outcome reporting, and public health disease surveillance and reporting.

Electronic Prescribing (eRx) –   This is a type of computer technology whereby physicians use handheld or personal computer devices to review drug and formulary coverage and to transmit prescriptions to a printer or to a local pharmacy.  E-prescribing software can be integrated into existing clinical information systems to allow physician access to patient specific information to screen for drug interactions and allergies.

Federal Health Architecture (FHA) – A collaborative body composed of several federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Energy (DOE). FHA provides a framework for linking health business processes to technology solutions and standards and for demonstrating how these solutions achieve improved health performance outcomes.

Health Information Exchange (HIE)- Electronic health information exchange (HIE) allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health care providers and patients to appropriately access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically—improving the speed, quality, safety and cost of patient care.

There are currently three key forms of health information exchange:

    • Directed Exchange – ability to send and receive secure information electronically between care providers to support coordinated care
    • Query-based Exchange – ability for providers to find and/or request information on a patient from other providers, often used for unplanned care
    • Consumer Mediated Exchange – ability for patients to aggregate and control the use of their health information among providers

Interoperability- describes the extent to which systems and devices can exchange data, and interpret that shared data. For two systems to be interoperable, they must be able to exchange data and subsequently present that data such that it can be understood by a user.

Personal Health Records (PHRs) - An electronic application through which individuals can maintain and manage their health information (and that of others for whom they are authorized) in a private, secure, and confidential environment.

Telemedicine - telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status. Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.

What Is “Meaningful Use?

Meaningful use is using certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to:

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and family
  • Improve care coordination, and population and public health
  • Maintain privacy and security of patient health information

Ultimately, it is hoped that the meaningful use compliance will result in:

  • Better clinical outcomes
  • Improved population health outcomes
  • Increased transparency and efficiency
  • Empowered individuals
  • More robust research data on health systems

Meaningful use sets specific objectives that eligible professionals (EPs) and hospitals must achieve to qualify for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Programs.