Thanks to health IT, clinicians around the country have integrated technology into everyday health care in a way that is not just improving wait times or processes, but actually improving our health. Here are three examples:

  1. Electronic health records (EHRs) do much more than provide an easy, searchable storage place for our clinical records; they help our caregivers improve the safety of our care. For example, EHRs can help reduce the number of prescription medication errors, ensure we remember to get our annual flu vaccines, and reduce radiation exposure to patients who don’t need it.

  2. Mobile health is putting health care in our pockets or on our wrists. The availability of smart devices that securely send important data to clinicians, wearable fitness trackers and patients and clinicians interacting via secure electronic means are just a few examples of how mobile health has helped improve access to care beyond clinical offices and hospitals. Health care is becoming something that fits into our lives—not the other way around.

  3. The patient-doctor relationship isn’t limited to the exam room. Through secure patient portals, patients can access summaries of their clinical visits, ask their clinician questions, request a prescription refill or have an e-visit—all with the click of a mouse or a tap on a screen. And better patient-doctor communication isn’t the only benefit. Research has shown that ePrescribing can decrease errors due to illegible handwriting.

The next step is to reach the point where health information can be securely, appropriately and consistently electronically shared between those who need it—otherwise known as interoperability.

Today, there are too many examples in which clinical information is mailed or faxed between hospitals and clinical offices that are only a block apart.

Having the right information at the right time so the right people can make the right clinical decisions improves the quality and safety of patient care. Secure data sharing exists in many other industries and it can exist in health care too.

As IT continues to be increasingly embraced by consumers and our caregivers, we will all demand more because we deserve more; better quality, cost-effective and more accessible care.