COMMUNITY

PATIENTS - WHAT IS HEALTH IT?

Welcome to the digital age in healthcare

Traditionally, your health information was shared between doctors by telephone, fax or mail. In some cases, you might have personally transported your medical files when visiting specialists. In today’s digital world, electronic health records (EHRs) have emerged as a safer, more efficient, more secure method to share patient health information.

A growing number of doctors and hospitals are converting their paper charts to digital versions, realizing the value of having a patient’s complete medical history in one electronic record. When patients learn the privacy and security safeguards that are in place, they recognize the many benefits of having an electronic medical record.

Technology is changing the way we manage our health. As a patient, consumer or caregiver, technology will enhance both your relationships with your healthcare providers and their relationships with each other. Watch this brief video to learn more about health information exchange and the importance of having quick and easy access to your own medical records. Running Time - 4:27

How your doctor uses GaHIN

GaHIN is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving healthcare for all Georgians. GaHIN helps doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers connect their computer-based patient record systems to a protected statewide network. The network is used to securely share information for patient care and this is called health information exchange. Being connected to a network allows healthcare professionals to access up-to-date patient information, which helps them provide you with better quality care. Additionally, the information is shared in a more protected way than paper-based files, faxes and mail.

Doctors and hospitals use this secure network to:

  • Send and receive a patient’s health information, including x-rays and lab results

  • Send your health information to a specialist

  • Send a patient’s treatment plan to a hospital or long-term care facility

  • Send a patient’s discharge instructions

  • Exchange messages with trusted in-network providers across the U.S

This service replaces less secure and inefficient methods like faxes, unsecure email, and phone calls. With this seamless, integrated, secure network, your healthcare providers can reduce treatment delays and errors—and expedite patient care in emergencies.

Health IT Terms

Electronic Health Record (EHR)

Traditionally, your doctors have always kept paper charts of your medical information in their offices. Your hospital also keeps a chart when you’re hospitalized. An electronic health record (EHR) is a digital version of those paper records.

Creating digital records is a trend that is growing in healthcare. Your doctor can easily track whether you are due for screenings, checkups or immunizations—which results in better care.

An electronic health record may contain the following information:

  • Doctors’ notes

  • Medical histories

  • Medications

  • Allergies

  • Lab and test results

  • Patient demographics

  • Vital signs

  • Diagnoses

  • Immunization dates

  • Radiology images

  • Administrative and billing data

An EHR is intended to provide a comprehensive medical history of every patient. This information can be shared with other healthcare providers and organizations—such as laboratories, specialists, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency facilities and clinics.

Health Information Exchange (HIE)

A health information exchange (HIE) is a network that allows healthcare providers to share electronic health records securely and electronically. This reduces the need for burdensome methods of record-sharing, like faxing and postal mail. GaHIN provides a “network of networks” that connects these HIEs all over Georgia—and soon across the nation.

When patient records are shared on an “as needed” basis, the patient’s privacy is protected—and medical specialists have access to critical details of the patient’s medical history. The result is easier, safer and better healthcare.

Electronic prescribing

When a doctor or other healthcare provider orders medications via a computer, it’s called electronic prescribing, or e-prescribing. There are many advantages with e-prescribing, as pharmacists can more easily notice drugs that interfere with medications you are taking—or if drug allergies are a problem. Also, the risk of misreading a doctor’s handwritten prescription is eliminated. Many hospitals and physicians are moving toward e-prescribing.