2 + 6 Types of H.I.T
The implementation of medical software and other specialized healthcare information systems in hospitals and other healthcare organizations has had monumental effects.
But choosing the right one for your business can be confusing. There are several categories of health information technology (HIT), and with many of these software systems sharing similar capabilities, it’s not always easy to distinguish one from the next. That’s why we’ve made a primer to help you break down the types of health information technology.
What Is Health Information Technology aka HIT?
HIT is the application of information technology to healthcare.
Systems that healthcare professionals (and sometimes patients) use to store, share and analyze health information. HIT makes possible the comprehensive management of information among patients, practitioners, government, regulators and insurers.
HIT promotes individual and public health while increasing the accuracy of diagnoses. Also reduces costs and medical errors, while improving the efficiency of both administrative and clinical processes.
By using HIT, the time and effort spent managing daily operations and administrative tasks are reduced, allowing healthcare organizations to focus more of efforts on patient treatment and health.
Faster prescriptions, information sharing, reduced paperwork and better follow-up are just a few examples.
Depending on the healthcare organization’s type of treatment and specific needs, there will be certain solutions that will benefit them more than others.
Before one does begin the process of selecting HIT software, one must be aware of the different types regarding HIT.
Two Main Categories
There are two main categories of health care information technology and six “subcategories.”
These exist in both hospitals and physician offices and are beneficial for nearly all types of health care providers.
1. Medical Practice Management aka MPM
Helps manage different administrative and clinical aspects of health organization. MPM centralizes various systems so the organization can run things more efficiently. It automates almost every task that fits under the “health information management” umbrella, from organizing appointments to verifying insurance.
MPM is geared more toward a healthcare facility’s clerical work, such as managing patient flows and other general documentation for the office. With MPM, there’s no need for a patient’s medical data to be included. For example, practice management software might keep a record of patient demographics but will generally not include a patient’s medical history.
Rather than clinicians, the primary users of MPM will consist predominantly of front desk workers as well as those with administrative roles. In addition to scheduling appointments and verifying insurance, MPM processes claims, generates reports and handles billing and payment.
Overall, think of practice management as a way to manage the day-to-day operations of the healthcare organization. By automating a variety of business tasks, MPM helps to improve a facility’s production and efficiency while giving administrators and other staff more time to focus on patient care.
2. EHR / EMR
Electronic health records (EHR) focus on the documentation and storage of a patient’s medical information.
Electronic medical records (EMR) started as a way to eliminate the time and errors that came with the manual charting of patient data. The problem, historically, with EMRs was that patient information was only able to be viewed within one office — so, if a patient were transferred to a different clinic, their medical information would not follow.
As a result of these limitations, electronic health records (EHR) were created to allow the sharing of patient data throughout different healthcare facilities. With EMR software and EHR software, a patient who is moved to, say the emergency room, can be properly treated because different physicians are able to access their information.
EHR = EHR + EMR
Differentiating an EHR from an EMR can be difficult. Industry insiders have started to use the two terms interchangeably. We will be referring to both as EHR.
These systems can also alert when patients are due for preventive procedures and screenings. In addition, EHRs help physicians treat patients by looking at their history and comparing their health data with past entries.
EHRs are also saving health organizations money by saving space. And that is significant. Health organizations can repurpose large spaces originally used for paper document storage. This also eliminates the risk of damaged or lost files.
Remember that MPM and EHR focus on entirely different aspects of your practice. MPM solves the business side of a healthcare facility — handling the day-to-day operations — while EHR is geared toward patient treatment and documentation of medical charts
Compare Top EHR/EMR Software Leaders
Following sub-types of two major HIT types often integrate with MPM to provide robust functions and better patient care.
1. Patient Portal
With patient portals, users can essentially view everything you’d find in an EHR, including patient history, treatments and medications. A patient can access their medical history, schedule appointments, message their doctor, view bills and make payments all online. Patient portals are allowing patients to have more control when it comes to their overall health treatment.
Patients can use their personal devices, such as a phone or tablet, to create and save personal notes as well as receive alerts and notifications from their providers. Rather than having to wait on the phone during business hours to set an appointment, a patient can simply log in, check their doctor’s availability and schedule a time that works for both of them.
Once a patient has finished their appointment, they can go online to view their bill and provide payment information to settle up.
These systems have increased in popularity among hospitals and medical practices in recent years. Today’s consumer expects more transparency and accessibility than ever before, so it’s no wonder why portals are becoming a staple in the medical industry.
2. Patient Scheduling
Patient scheduling software oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with a patient portal. In today’s digital age, many patients prefer to schedule appointments themselves. You can direct patients to log in to their mobile device app and schedule appointments when it’s convenient for them, matching up their availability with that of their practitioner(s).
Aside from the patient’s ability to set appointments, practitioners can use practice management software to schedule other staff members as well as assign exam rooms and speciality equipment to specific times of the day.
3. Medical Billing
One of the most time-consuming tasks for practices is managing all aspects of billing. It’s especially true for busy hospitals and practices, as there is little time to spare for most tasks in the first place. From scheduling an appointment up until payment is processed, medical billing software handles the entire billing workflow process.
In addition to patient billing, this software handles insurance claims, insurance verification, payment processing and patient tracking.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to medical billing software lies in scanning claims and eliminating any (CCI, HIPAA or LCD) errors. This leads to higher first-pass claim acceptance rates and faster reimbursements.
If your facility focuses on specialized care, make sure your area of treatment is supported by your software, as many medical billing solutions don’t support speciality clinics — mainly dentistry.
Sending prescriptions to pharmacies can be tedious when creating orders for multiple patients. To expedite the process, physician offices began using e-prescribing software.
In addition to speeding up the entire prescription process, the fulfilment of prescriptions can be tracked and controlled substance prescriptions can be monitored more accurately.
ePrescribing systems ensure there’s never a prescription mix up caused by hard-to-decipher handwriting. Additionally, by being online rather than in physical form, you don’t run the risk of misplacing a prescription. The system displays the prescription at the pharmacy, ensuring patient safety by giving them the correct one.
Patients are also saving money as a result of e-prescribing. Using e-prescribing software has increased the prescribing of generic drugs — the clinic is able to keep better track of patient records and provide a more cost-effective medication for patients.
5. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
With remote patient monitoring, patients mobile devices are becoming medical sensors that can send patient data from wherever they are, to healthcare professionals. RPM is reducing the costs that come with chronic care and hospital readmission.
RPM can also monitor data can be used to predict and prevent events that’d otherwise require medical intervention. As RPMs on personal mobile devices become increasingly popular, this data captured will become part of a larger population health study, post-2020.
Practitioners can use the data they gather to make recommendations or provide wellness advice to the patient. For example, if a patient is consistently gaining weight, a doctor might recommend a healthier diet or even make sure the treatment isn’t causing the problem.
There are several types of healthcare which benefit from the use of an RPM: post-discharge care, senior care, workmen’s compensation cases, behavioural health and substance abuse treatment.
6. Master Patient Index
A master patient index connects a patient’s records with more than one database. Containing records for any patient registered at a healthcare organization, an MPI allows that facility’s different departments to all share data simultaneously.
This type of HIT is commonly used by hospitals or other large practices, as data can be entered once and stored for future reference in other departments and labs.
A couple of post-2020, end goals of using MPI include providing more accurate data and better security of patient information. MPI aims to reduce the need for the manual duplication of patient records; for example, when it comes to filling out claims, resulting in fewer patient claim denials. With access management tools, administrators can control which users are able to access the MPI.
Introducing HIT in Health Organizations
Although HIT offers many potential benefits, individuals and institutions have been somewhat slow to adopt the technology. In some cases, the issues are financially motivated; even when monetary incentives are provided by the federal government, the initial cost of implementing HIT can be too expensive for health organizations.
Other problems are more technical — one example: companies trying to interface different legacy systems with modern health information technology containing laboratory or medication data.
To choose and use HIT effectively, an organization must be diligent in researching both current and future requirements. Despite initial difficulties associated with introducing the program, the outcomes are worth the risk and effort. The processes will be streamlined at any hospital or practice once they do implement a system.