How IT Is Changing Health Care

In short, health IT is far more than the digitization of health records, says Kristine Martin Anderson, one of the company's health-care senior vice presidents.

The top nine ways in which health IT is transforming health care, according to the management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, are:

  • Reducing medical errors by identifying potential mistakes.
  • Improving collaboration throughout the health-care system by providing more complete knowledge to everyone involved in a patient's care.
  • Ensuring better transitions in care as patients move from hospitals to outpatient facilities.
  • Speeding up and improving emergency care by linking first-responders with emergency departments and giving hospitals immediate access to a patient's medical records.
  • Empowering patients and their families to participate in care decisions by giving them more access to their medical records and to information about care options.
  • Adding convenience through, for example, online appointment scheduling, online displays of emergency room wait times and email communications with physicians.
  • Improving care for military members by making their medical records immediately available to everyone from front-line medics to stateside rehab centers.
  • Enhancing responses to public-health emergencies and disasters.
  • Facilitating medical research and innovation by aggregating vast amounts of data and improving analysis of treatments.

"In reality," she says, "health IT is much more transformative. It's a strong collection of technologies, tools and innovations that are already revolutionizing the way people receive and manager their care in communities across the nation."