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Health information technology (health IT) involves the exchange of health information in an electronic environment.  Widespread use of health IT within the health care industry will improve the quality of health care, prevent medical errors, reduce health care costs, increase administrative efficiencies, decrease paperwork, and expand access to affordable health care.  It is imperative that the privacy and security of electronic health information be ensured as this information is maintained and transmitted electronically.

Interoperable HIT will improve individual patient care, but it will also bring many public health benefits including:

  • Early detection of infectious disease outbreaks around the country;
  • Improved tracking of chronic disease management

Health information technology (HIT) is the area of IT involving the design, development, creation, use and maintenance of information systems for the healthcare industry. Automated and interoperable healthcare information systems are expected to lower costs, improve efficiency and reduce error, while also providing better consumer care and service.

The electronic health record (EHR) is the central component of the health IT infrastructure. An EHR is an individual's official, digital health record and is shared among multiple facilities and agencies. The other essential elements of the HIT infrastructure are the electronic medical record (EMR), which is an individual's health record within a healthcare provider's facility; the personal health record (PHR), which is an individual's self-maintained health record; and a Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO), which oversees communications among the other elements and unifies them geographically.