Health Information Technology—A Practical Guide to the Terminology

July 23, 2014 | Evaluations & Guidance


​​Health information technology (HIT) is a complex field filled with confusing terms such as electronic health record, electronic medical record, personal health record, and clinical information system. The meanings of these terms are still evolving as the technologies and functionality continue to develop. In the absence of clear and concise definitions, different health systems may use the terms differently with no consensus on terminology, sometimes even within a single organization.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has published many guides to HIT, such as this description of electronic medical records, to help facilities buy and implement systems that satisfy meaningful use requirements. But ONC's definitions are mainly functional—stating, for example, that a system must record such-and-such information or must be able to report out on such-and-such data—and may not reflect how the systems are used in practice. Hospitals, healthcare providers, and vendors tend to use HIT terms a little differently than the government does on its websites.

Here's a guide to the common usage of...

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