Health—Information—Technology—in that order. While we usually assume this is one concept from three words, a closer look spells out the genuine priority of health information technology or “HIT”. As health care moves towards adoption and use of HIT, many times people grow weary of the “technology” part. Where is the “killer app?” Why all this interest in technology when there are so many problems within our health care culture? Take a closer look. The words are in the correct order of importance.
First and foremost-- the reason for the discussion—is our health. As dietitians, we realize the potential for improving the quality of health Americans have through nutrition and diet. We are in an unprecedented time of discussion and policy concerning our health care.
Second is the “information” piece—data about our particular situation and evidence based “information” on what the expectations are based upon a given set of circumstances. If I have high blood pressure and am 50 pounds overweight, then I can use the information that weight loss is usually accompanied by a reduction of blood pressure to improve my health.
Last is the “technology” piece. It is only a tool—albeit a powerful one when used wisely—to implement and deliver quality health care. It has great potential to make the process more efficient by assimilating data and sharing it so you only have to answer all those family history questions once. It can reduce costs when your physician has access to lab or radiology results so he/she does not have to reorder them. It can allow you to track your progress in a meaningful way so you understand the changes over time. However, without the other two – health and information—it is a meaningless tool. The challenge to us as dietitians is to uncover the many ways we can use technology to manage our health (and our patients/consumers health) more efficiently.