Many industries have lowered costs and improved quality through investments in information technology. The health care sector, however, has been slow to follow suit.
Many providers lack the computer systems necessary to track a patient's care or coordinate it across all the providers a patient may see. Yet, information technology can improve the quality of care patients receive by averting medical errors, improving communication and boosting efficiency.
Increasingly, the federal government has stressed the value of health information technology (HIT) in helping providers to share information quickly, monitor compliance with treatment guidelines and measure and improve their own performance. In 2009, Congress approved $29 billion for a national HIT infrastructure with the aim to spur health care providers to adopt information technology more widely in their everyday work.
This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in July 2011, explains how health information technology can improve the quality of health care.
Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.