It's not such a surprise these days when you visit your doctor's office and your physician uses an iPad to take notes and store your medical records electronically. It makes sense, since managing modern-day medical information involves a great deal of effort and resources.
This tech shift has spurred the field of "health informatics," which describes the intersection of healthcare, information technology and business. The infographic below — by the University of Illinois at Chicago's (UIC) Online Masters of Health Informatics program — breaks down and describes health informatics and the mashup of technology and healthcare.
According to the UIC program, health informatics systems can streamline medical care, reduce repeated or duplicate tests/procedures and automate manual processes. The UIC program suggests electronic health records can improve patient education: you can more easily get direct access to your records, you stay involved/informed in your healthcare and it could help you to potentially manage your own care.
But it's not all rosy: some doctors say electronic health records negatively affect care and some believe it makes interaction impersonal. A more substantial verdict may come as larger portions of the U.S. healthcare system shift to electronic records. Part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act pushed incentives to digitize health records, and the U.S. government reportedly hopes most Americans have electronic health records by 2014.
Does your doctor's office use electronic records or paper charts? What are the pros/cons of technology in healthcare? Share your thoughts in the comments.