Health IT and Health Care Trends

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is coordinating the nation’s efforts to adopt health information technology (health IT) and optimize its use. The federal government is investing in health IT to provide the needed infrastructure for health reform. The purpose of these efforts is to provide better health, better care, at lower cost.

More doctors and medical facilities are adopting electronic health records. By 2011, 33 percent of all office-based providers and 45 percent of non-federal acute care hospitals had adopted at least a basic electronic health record. More doctors and medical facilities are using electronic health records to provide services; 73 percent of physicians have e-prescribing capabilities.

Health care consumers are using health IT to interact with their clinicians and manage their health. Doctors with the capability to exchange secure messages electronically with patients increased by 40 percent from 2011 to 2012. Today, 88 million Americans have access to their health information electronically through “Blue Button” and there have been over 1.4 million Blue Button downloads.

With tools like Blue Button, it’s becoming easier for people to access information about their health and health care generally, and to use this information to make choices and talk with their clinicians about their preferences and treatment options.

Three important trends in health and health care provide increased opportunity for consumer empowerment:

  1. Technology encourages easier information access and sharing. More information is available today than ever before, and tools for creating, sharing, and analyzing it are growing better, cheaper, and faster. Tools designed to engage consumers can enable people to become more knowledgeable about health care options and to overcome barriers, such as geographic location, to take part in managing their health care.
  2. Health IT adoption and use is rising. As more health providers adopt electronic health records and engage with their patients using health IT, health care consumers may be more likely to adopt and use consumer eHealth tools. By November 2012, 84 percent of eligible hospitals (4,193 out of estimated 5,011 hospitals) registered for federal incentive programs for using electronic health records, and 65 percent of eligible health care professionals (335,897 out of estimated 521,600) registered.
  3. Health care policy is focusing on individual outcomes and wellness. Our nation’s health care system is changing to address increasing health care costs and rising rates of chronic disease. Health care systems are starting to reward providers for increasing the quality of patient care while reducing costs and improving overall community health, as measured by things like reduced rates of heart attack and stroke. The federal government is encouraging these changes through new programs that reward providers based on patient outcomes, rather than transactions, such as office visits and medical tests.

Ideally, health IT can be used to better produce, combine, and share information, enabling consumers and their care team to make more informed health decisions. The desired outcomes are better, more coordinated and individually appropriate care; fewer unnecessary tests and procedures; reduced preventable illnesses and avoidable hospitalizations; and better management of chronic conditions.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is coordinating the nation’s efforts to adopt health information technology (health IT) and optimize its use. The federal government is investing in health IT to provide the needed infrastructure for health reform. The purpose of these efforts is to provide better health, better care, at lower cost.

More doctors and medical facilities are adopting electronic health records. By 2011, 33 percent of all office-based providers and 45 percent of non-federal acute care hospitals had adopted at least a basic electronic health record. More doctors and medical facilities are using electronic health records to provide services; 73 percent of physicians have e-prescribing capabilities.

Health care consumers are using health IT to interact with their clinicians and manage their health. Doctors with the capability to exchange secure messages electronically with patients increased by 40 percent from 2011 to 2012. Today, 88 million Americans have access to their health information electronically through “Blue Button” and there have been over 1.4 million Blue Button downloads.

With tools like Blue Button, it’s becoming easier for people to access information about their health and health care generally, and to use this information to make choices and talk with their clinicians about their preferences and treatment options.

Three important trends in health and health care provide increased opportunity for consumer empowerment:

  1. Technology encourages easier information access and sharing. More information is available today than ever before, and tools for creating, sharing, and analyzing it are growing better, cheaper, and faster. Tools designed to engage consumers can enable people to become more knowledgeable about health care options and to overcome barriers, such as geographic location, to take part in managing their health care.
  2. Health IT adoption and use is rising. As more health providers adopt electronic health records and engage with their patients using health IT, health care consumers may be more likely to adopt and use consumer eHealth tools. By November 2012, 84 percent of eligible hospitals (4,193 out of estimated 5,011 hospitals) registered for federal incentive programs for using electronic health records, and 65 percent of eligible health care professionals (335,897 out of estimated 521,600) registered.
  3. Health care policy is focusing on individual outcomes and wellness. Our nation’s health care system is changing to address increasing health care costs and rising rates of chronic disease. Health care systems are starting to reward providers for increasing the quality of patient care while reducing costs and improving overall community health, as measured by things like reduced rates of heart attack and stroke. The federal government is encouraging these changes through new programs that reward providers based on patient outcomes, rather than transactions, such as office visits and medical tests.

Ideally, health IT can be used to better produce, combine, and share information, enabling consumers and their care team to make more informed health decisions. The desired outcomes are better, more coordinated and individually appropriate care; fewer unnecessary tests and procedures; reduced preventable illnesses and avoidable hospitalizations; and better management of chronic conditions.