Technology makes our lives easier and saves us time—ATMs, online shopping, and scanners at the grocery store. Technology is also very important in the world of medicine and health care—it can help put information like tests, x-rays, and MRIs at the fingertips of those who need it. Now, because of technology like the Internet, anyone can access information about health-related topics.
Many people want a more “hands-on” role when it comes to managing their family’s health and health care. For example, families are often interested in new ways to communicate and partner with their child’s doctor, such as through e-mail.
For your doctor, technology can help him/her provide a medical home for your children. An important part of the medical home is secure communication and transfer of your child’s health care information. To ensure quality care, that information often needs to be shared with other health care providers, hospitals, and community programs. Health information technology (HIT) can make that possible!
Doctors can access their patients’ health information, improve communication with families, and coordinate with other providers by using some of the HIT tools below. You may wish to talk with your doctor about whether or not these HIT tools are available in his/her practice. If they are available, ask how you can use these tools to take a more active role in your child’s health care.
Your Child's Medical Home
A medical home is the kind of primary health care we all want and deserve. A medical home is not a place—it is the way care is provided to your child and your family.
At the core of a medical home is a knowledgeable, compassionate health care provider and care team. They are chosen by a patient and their family to take care of health needs and to make sure care is well-coordinated.
HIT “Tools” Include:
- Electronic health records (EHR) – An individual’s medical record in a digital format—which means a computer is used to record, store, and review medical information.
- Personal health records (PHR) – A record of an individual’s health. The record could include information from multiple sources (eg, patient, family, doctors, and other health care professionals). The difference between an EHR and a PHR is that a PHR is controlled by and available to the patient, while an EHR is controlled by the doctor and is usually not available to the patient.
- Patient portal - Allows patients to communicate with their doctor and access important information over the Internet securely. A doctor can send reminders, health information, and lab results electronically to patients. Patients can send questions to the doctor and provider updates about their health concerns.
- Family-centered care plan - A care plan is developed with the family to include all current and past medical and social aspects of a child and family's strengths and needs. It also includes current contact information.
- Patient registry – Helps a doctor keep track of a certain part of their patient population (eg, all children with asthma). A doctor can also use this information to identify needs and improve quality of care.
- Patient post-visit summary – A summary of what occurred during the office visit and any follow-up that is needed. A summary may also include age-appropriate information.
- e-prescribing – Allows a health care professional to send a prescription directly to a pharmacy from his/her office.
- Tracking – The process of following everything from lab and x-ray results to referrals to other health care providers. A doctor can then make sure any necessary follow-up is done.
Want to learn more? Here are some resources for families about HIT and the medical home: