With National Health IT Week underway, the question posed by HIMSS is: What is the value of health IT?

A clear answer is data freedom.

health it: what is it all about?

before defining data freedom, it is good to define health information technology (it). health it is:

  • systems to support the delivery of patient care
  • infrastructure to enable the delivery of patient care
  • applications to record, analyze, and coordinate the delivery of patient care
  • networks to exchange and share relevant and approved information to deliver patient care

the final element may seem out of place yet it is essential. health it is the people who make all the systems, infrastructure, applications, and networks work efficiently and effectively, supporting the care providers who care for patients and their families. ultimately, it is about people.­­

data freedom: the value of health it

on to data freedom. data freedom is:

  • a responsibility. it is a responsibility to protect patient data from unwanted release and exposure. it is also about transparency in letting people know what data is being tracked and shared.
  • unfettered flow. patient data needs to flow responsibly to each care provider who is involved in the continuum of a patient’s care. it is a call to get relevant information to deliver high quality, informed care without duplication of tests.
  • efficient workflows. within any provider organization (e.g., hospital, lab, imaging center, or clinic), there are different applications. the workflow between the applications needs to work, meaning the data needs to flow seamlessly.
  • centered on the patient. it comes back to people. people are patients and, in those moments, they need their data accessible to store, record, and share as needed. patients need a portfolio of their relevant care data, which includes family history along with their own. freedom comes to individuals when they can have access to their own data.

the value of health it is centered in data. moving it from paper to electronic formats and then empowering the electronic data to move in the directions in needs to flow. this is the value of health it.

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