IT for health care

Health IT can drastically improve health-care access and the quality of that care, and can dramatically lower the costs. With the current paper-based health-care system, patients and doctors lack instant access to medical information, leading to medical errors, delays and increased costs. With the adoption of health IT, patients and health-care providers can now work collaboratively online to discuss health-care needs. the Northwest Physicians Network (NPN), based in Tacoma, and Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), based in Spokane, are national models for the integration of health IT. The NPN is developing a network of health-care providers in the South Puget Sound area to share medical information over a Web-based system. INHS has a network of more than 35 sites in two states, and its use of electronic medical records and telemedicine allows for the delivery of long-distance diagnosis and quality health care to rural areas. The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina demonstrates the need for better electronic health-care records as many paper records were destroyed in the flood. With an electronic health-care system in place, natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and tornadoes would not lead to the destruction of thousands of health-care records. The safety and security of electronic health-care records would ensure that the quality of care and efficiency would not be lost.Health IT has the potential to save billions of dollars and thousands of lives. It serves as a tool to enhance coordination of care and increase the efficiency of our heath-care system. Most importantly, it will give Medicaid the financial ability and flexibility to continue to provide health care for those who need it most.


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