Written by Cortney Nicolato
A century ago, “healthcare” consisted of a doctor arriving at a patient’s door in a horse-drawn buggy, or maybe a newfangled Ford Model T, and doing whatever the tools and medicines in his little black bag would allow.
Fifty years ago, “healthcare” had made amazing advances, but it was just beginning to explore the possibilities enabled by the big mainframe computers marketed by IBM and others.
This year, “healthcare” cannot be delivered or even understood without Health IT.
Health IT is — literally — the backbone of modern healthcare. It connects people with all the components of today’s healthcare system and enables communication across roles and specialties and institutions to achieve better care and more cost-effective delivery.
Just as technology is transforming every other area of our lives — from banking to shopping to driving to energy use — it is also revolutionizing our capacity to heal. Since nothing is more important than our health, Health IT is about modernizing and streamlining this most valuable resource.
Until this year, bringing truly effective, evidence-based healthcare to patients was simply a worthy goal. Now, it’s a reality.
Until this year, improving patient-provider collaboration in a scalable way was only a dream. Now, it’s achievable.
Until this year, bringing cutting-edge medicine to patients everywhere — not only to those who happen to live near great hospitals and medical communities — seemed impossible. Now, thanks to Health IT’s ability to span miles with light-speed connectivity, it’s really happening.
Until this year, educating and empowering patients to get and stay healthy and manage their conditions was a great idea. Now, through a rich Health IT ecosystem of apps and tools accessible through an unprecedented array of consumer technology — from laptop computers to tablets to smartphones — patients can truly be stewards of their own health like never before.
As we gather at conferences and share observations online — replete with industry jargon and talk of improving outcomes and reducing readmissions and facilitating care transitions and managing chronic diseases and meeting requirements for Meaningful Use Stage 2 — we’ll do well to remind ourselves that what Health IT is really all about is keeping the well healthy, aiding the at-risk, and serving patients and their families.