Overview: Health information technology (HIT) is a central aspect of current U.S. government efforts to reduce costs and improve the efficiency and safety of the health care system. A federal push to implement and enhance electronic health records (EHRs) has been supported by billions of dollars earmarked in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, passed as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The goal has been to lay the groundwork for a HIT system that enables a more reliable exchange of information among practitioners and patients and significant improvements in the way care is delivered.
But what does this really mean for nurses? This article is the first in a series on HIT and nursing and will examine the federal policies behind efforts to expand the use of this technology as well as the implications for nurses. Subsequent articles will take a closer look at the use of EHRs to improve patient safety and quality of care, and the important role nurses are playing—and could play—in this system-wide initiative.