The health IT sector is growing, offering new opportunities to cut health care costs and improve patient care. Not only do electronic health records help reduce paperwork and better allocate resources, but they allow experts to track population-related health information on a broad scale, which helps better allocate resources and improve population health.
The growing health IT sector also offers promising new work for people interested in medical health data and in making the health care system more efficient and effective.
Health information technology is a field that comprises various technologies that gather, store and analyze information for the health care industry. Both health care providers and patients use it to make health care more efficient. One example of information health technology focuses on the use of electronic health records (EHRs) — which make it easier for your doctor to track and analyze your health information in order to provide better, more focused and efficient care.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for health information technicians are expected to grow by 15 percent through the year 2024. This is must faster than the average for all jobs. The 2009 HITECH act, which promoted the use and adoption of health information technology, has partially fueled this growth.
A report by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology shows that the health care system is seeing “unprecedented levels of electronic health exchange.” The fact that 96 percent of hospitals and 78 percent of physician offices use electronic health record technology proves that health care IT is here to stay. However, there is more to be done to expand and perfect the technology, which promises great opportunity for those looking to enter the field.
The job outlook for health information technicians is very positive. The field is poised to grow for years to come. The median annual pay for health informatics specialists is over $61,000 per year. The greatest factors affecting pay levels are location and experience. The required education for health information technicians is a postsecondary degree and often, field certification.
Health IT for Physicians and Patients
The implementation of health information technologies allows some hospitals to cut costs, see more patients and increase revenue. In some cases, adopting these technologies decreases costs over a number of years; however, in other cases, costs can increase. Because of these facts, some experts say there is not enough data available to conclude that an electronic health information system is definitively a cost-saving strategy.
However, according to a 2016 report my Medscape, 56 percent of physicians stated that documentation processes were improved by using electronic medical records. A significant percentage also stated that electronic documentation reduced the number of patients they could see, which raises the issue of how to include health IT in practitioners’ workflows for greater efficiency.
In the best cases, electronic health records reduce paperwork, get patient information accurately into the hands of those who need it, and help doctors coordinate patient care and safety. They can also reduce unnecessary tests and procedures, saving the cost of time and resources to both patients and the health care system. They also give patients direct access to their health records and help them efficiently communicate with their care providers.
Health care information technology provides an opportunity for the use of health care data analytics. Predictive analytics can help identify patients who are at risk for chronic diseases and other medical conditions. This is achieved through tracking individual patient medical data alongside population-wide health trends, and then cross-referencing that data with the patient’s medical history, socio-economic position and comorbidity. This allows health care systems to identify at-risk populations and individuals for early, aggressive intervention and care, saving systems long-term cost and improving overall efficiency.
Data analytics can also track, through population health data, the spread of diseases like Zika or Ebola, helping experts allocate resources more efficiently to combat them.
The Future of Health IT
We are in the beginning stages of a boom in the health IT sector. Although it is too early to give a full account of how health information technologies will benefit the health care system, it is clear that progress is being made. The future of health information depends on how best to implement technologies like electronic health records and data analytics and integrate them efficiently into the health care system.
The University of Illinois at Chicago delivers some of the most innovative and comprehensive Health Informatics and Health Information Management programs in the country. Our advanced degree and certificate programs can prepare you to make an immediate impact within your organization and play a vital role in the evolution of the healthcare industry as a whole.