Health IT and Electronic Health Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing health IT and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

  • #

    21st Century Cures Act

    The 21st Century Cures Act is a wide-ranging healthcare bill that funds medical research and development, medical device innovation, mental health research and care, opioid addiction treatment and prevention, and health information technology.

  • A

    accountable care organization (ACO)

    An accountable care organization (ACO) is an association of hospitals, healthcare providers and insurers in which all parties voluntarily assume financial and medical responsibility for Medicare patients.

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is a U.S. government agency that functions as a part of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to support research to help improve the quality of health care.

  • Allscripts

    Allscripts is a vendor of electronic health record systems for physician practices, hospitals and healthcare systems.

  • Amalga

    Amalga is a health IT data integration platform designed to retrieve and display healthcare-related information from various sources, including scanned documents, lab results, dictated notes and images such as X-rays, EKGs and MRIs.

  • ambulatory medical record (AMR)

    An ambulatory medical record (AMR) is an electronically stored file of a patient’s outpatient medical records, which includes all surgeries and care that do not involve being admitted to a hospital.

  • American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

    The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is a professional organization that promotes the business and clinical uses of electronic and paper-based medical information.

  • American Medical Association (AMA)

    The American Medical Association (AMA) is a physician group that works for healthcare reform and publishes a collection of medical journals.

  • American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)

    The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) is a group of individuals from myriad disciplines who convene in the interest of improving health informatics as it relates to patient care, teaching, research and related aspects of health care policy.

  • American Telemedicine Association (ATA)

    American Telemedicine Association (ATA) is a non-profit organization that strives to promote telemedicine (medical care delivered through the use of telecommunications technology).

  • ASTM International

    ASTM International is a voluntary standards development organization whose work covers 15 industries, ranging from energy to chemicals to medical devices. It is one of several organizations involved in the ongoing development of the Continuity of Care Record, a standard for the creation of electronic summaries of patient health.

  • athenahealth Inc.

    athenahealth Inc. is a developer of cloud-based practice management, point-of-care mobile applications and electronic health record (EHR) systems for small to medium-sized (SMB) physician practices and hospitals.

  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, ACA or Obamacare)

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (more commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act, ACA or Obamacare) is a healthcare law passed by Congress in 2010 during the administration of President Barack Obama.

  • B

    Bar Coded Medication Administration (BCMA)

    Bar Coded Medication Administration (BCMA) is a hospital inventory control system that uses barcodes in the distribution of prescription medications with the goal of ensuring the patient is receiving the correct medication.

  • Bidirectional Health Information Exchange (BHIE)

    Bidirectional Health Information Exchange (BHIE) is a health information sharing project that builds on the previously established Federal Health Information Exchange (FHIE) program. The BHIE allows for two-way sharing of PHI data between the Department of Defense and the Veterans Health Administration. The data shared under BHIE includes pre- and post-deployment physicals and progress notes.

  • biomedical informatics

    Biomedical informatics is the branch of health informatics that uses data to help clinicians, researchers and scientists improve human health and provide healthcare.

  • Biosense

    Biosense is the first foray into the field of bioinformatics for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Blue Button

    The Blue Button initiative is a national program that allows patients to access and download personal health information into a simple text file or PDF that contains all of the personal medical data or it can be separated by data class or by date range.

  • C

    California Primary Care Association (CPCA)

    The California Primary Care Association (CPCA) is an organization that represents more than 800 nonprofit community clinics and health centers in the state. The CPCA is one of three members of Cal-REC (Regional Extension Center); the California Medical Association and the California Association of Public Hospitals are the other members.

  • CCHIT - Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology

    The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) is an independent, not-for-profit group that certifies electronic health records (EHR) and networks for health information exchange (HIE) in the United States. CCHIT's stated mission is to speed the adoption of health information technology (HIT).

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    Promoting a healthy general public and sharing data about chronic diseases are main goals of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is the wing of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that runs healthcare reimbursement and health IT programs.

  • Cerner Corp.

    Cerner Corp. is a public company in North Kansas City, Mo., that provides various health information technologies, ranging from medical devices to electronic health records (EHR) to hardware.

  • Change Healthcare

    Change Healthcare is a healthcare technology provider of revenue cycle management, payment management and health information exchange (HIE) solutions.

  • CHIME (College of Healthcare Information Management Executives)

    The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an organization created to serve the professional development needs of CIOs working in the healthcare industry and to promote effective information management within that industry. CHIME meets these objectives through networking and education opportunities as well as partnerships with health information technology vendors and service firms. The organization was formed in 1992.

  • Clinical Data Repository/Health Data Repository (CHDR)

    Clinical Data Repository/Health Data Repository (CHDR) is a storage interface between the data repositories of the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration. It supports bidirectional data exchange of pharmaceutical data.

  • clinical decision support system (CDSS)

    A clinical decision support system (CDSS) is an application that analyzes data to help healthcare providers make decisions and improve patient care.

  • clinical document (HL7 clinical document)

    A clinical document is a written, printed or electronic record that provides evidence of medical care.

  • Clinical Document Architecture (CDA)

    Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) is a markup standard created by Health Level 7 International (HL7) that defines the structure of discharge summaries, progress notes and other medical records.

  • clinical documentation (healthcare)

    Clinical documentation (CD) is the creation of a digital or analog record detailing a medical treatment, medical trial or clinical test.

  • clinical informatics

    Clinical informatics, also known as health informatics, is the study of how technology and data analytics can be used to improve patient care plans.

  • clinical trial

    A clinical trial, also known as a clinical research study, is a protocol to evaluate the effects and efficacy of experimental medical treatments or behavioral interventions on health outcomes.

  • CMIO (Chief Medical Information Officer)

    A Chief Medical Information Officer, or CMIO, essentially serves as the bridge between medical and IT departments at a health care organization. This person may also be referred to as the director of medical informatics or health informatics.

  • common working file (CWF)

    A common working file (CWF) is a tool used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to maintain national Medicare records for individual beneficiaries enrolled in the program.

  • computer assisted coding system (CACS)

    A computer assisted coding system (CACS) is medical software that reviews healthcare forms, including electronic health records, and assigns appropriate medical codes to its findings.

  • computerized physician order entry (CPOE)

    Computerized physician order entry (CPOE), also known as computerized provider order entry or computerized practitioner order entry, refers to the process of a medical professional entering and sending medication orders and treatment instructions electronically via a computer application instead of on paper charts.

  • Consolidated Health Informatics (CHI)

    The Consolidated Health Informatics (CHI) initiative refers to a collaborative effort to create and adopt health informatics standards to be used by federal departments such as the Department of Health & Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  • Continuity of Care Document (CCD)

    The Continuity of Care Document (CCD) is an electronic document exchange standard for sharing patient summary information.

  • Continuity of Care Record (CCR)

    The Continuity of Care Record, or CCR, is a standard for the creation of electronic summaries of patient health. Its aim is to improve the quality of health care and to reduce medical errors by making current information readily available to physicians.

  • Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code

    Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes are a uniform medical code set maintained and copyrighted by the American Medical Association and used to describe medical, surgical and diagnostic services.

  • D

    DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine)

    DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) is a standard protocol for the management and transmission of medical images and related data and is used in many healthcare facilities.

  • E

    e-prescribing (electronic prescribing)

    E-prescribing, or electronic prescribing is a technology framework that allows physicians and other medical practitioners to write and send prescriptions to a participating pharmacy electronically instead of using handwritten or faxed notes or calling in prescriptions.

  • e-prescribing (eRx) incentive program

    The Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Incentive Program is a US government program that provides financial incentives to physicians, practitioners and therapists who meet certain criteria for the use of qualified e-prescribing systems.

  • eClinicalWorks

    eClinicalWorks is a Massachusetts-based company that sells electronic medical record (EMR), practice management (PM) and personal health record (PHR) software and services to reportedly more than 115,000 physicians and 70,000 facilities in the United States.

  • eHealth Initiative

    The eHealth Initiative is an independent, nonprofit organization that engages doctors and patients in order to standardize and reform the use of health information technology (HIT) to improve patient care in the United States

  • EHR implementation plan

    An electronic health record (EHR) implementation plan is a comprehensive set of strategies and steps used by a health care organization when preparing for and executing the adoption of an electronic-based health care system.

  • electronic health record (EHR)

    An electronic health record (EHR) is an individual's official health document that is shared among multiple facilities and agencies.

  • electronic intensive care unit (eICU)

    An Electronic Intensive Care Unit (eICU) is a form of telemedicine that utilizes state of the art technology to provide an additional layer of critical care service. An eICU support center can provide care to patients in multiple hospitals.

  • electronic medical billing

    Electronic medical billing is the process by which a health care provider electronically submits a bill, or claim, to a health insurance company, or payer, for the rendering of medical services.

  • electronic protected health information (ePHI)

    Electronic protected health information (ePHI) is protected health information (PHI) that is produced, saved, transferred or received in an electronic form. In the United States, ePHI management is covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Security Rule.

  • enterprise master patient index (EMPI)

    An enterprise master patient index (EMPI) is a database that is used to maintain consistent and accurate information about each patient registered by a healthcare organization.

  • Epic Systems

    Epic Systems is one of the largest providers of health information technology, used primarily by large U.S. hospitals and health systems to access, organize, store and share electronic medical records.

  • F

    FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

    The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulates the production and sale of food, medicine, health technology and cosmetic products. The FDA, also called the USFDA, approves drugs and medical devices for sale and recalls unsafe products.

  • Federal Health Architecture (FHA)

    The Federal Health Architecture (FHA) is an initiative led by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to coordinate the health information technology efforts of the nearly two dozen federal agencies that provide health care services.

  • Federal Health Information Exchange (FHIE)

    Federal Health Information Exchange (FHIE) is a health information sharing project that allows the Department of Defense to share service members’ personal health information in a joint storage area also accessible by the Veterans Health Administration. This information includes demographics, any medication taken and lab results.

  • fee-for-service (FFS)

    Fee-for-service (FFS) is a payment model in which doctors, hospitals, and medical practices charge separately for each service they perform.

  • FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources)

    Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is an interoperability standard for electronic exchange of healthcare information.

  • formulary

    A formulary is a list of prescription drugs that are covered by a specific health care plan.

  • G

    GE Healthcare

    GE Healthcare is a subsidiary of General Electric Co., that focuses on new developments in health information technology (HIT) such as more advanced medical imaging technology and patient monitoring systems.

  • genomics

    Genomics is the study of human genes and chromosomes.

  • Google Health

    Google Health is a personal health record (PHR) service that allows users to centrally store and manage their health information online. The application is free but requires a Google account.

  • H

    HCCA (Health Care Compliance Association)

    The Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) is a nonprofit, individual membership organization that aims to help health care professionals with ethics and compliance.

  • Health Alert Network

    Health Alert Network (HAN) is the early warning system run by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It is a component of the Public Health Information Network (PHIN).

  • health apps

    Health apps are application programs that offer health-related services for smartphones and tablet PCs.

  • health care cloud

    A health care cloud is a cloud computing service used by health care providers for storing, maintaining and backing up personal heath information (PHI).

  • health informatics

    Health informatics is the practice of acquiring, studying and managing health data and applying medical concepts in conjunction with health information technology systems to help clinicians provide better healthcare.

  • Health Information Exchange (HIE)

    Health information exchange (HIE) is the electronic transmission of healthcare-related data among medical facilities, health information organizations -- companies that oversee and govern the exchange of this data -- and government agencies according to national standards.

  • Health IT (health information technology)

    Health IT (health information technology) is the area of IT involving the design, development, creation, use and maintenance of information systems for the healthcare industry.

  • Healthcare CIO (healthcare chief information officer)

    A healthcare CIO is a healthcare executive with an influence over technology purchasing and other IT business decisions.

  • HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society)

    The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to promote the best use of IT and management systems in the healthcare industry.

  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

    HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.

  • HIPAA business associate agreement (BAA)

    Under the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, a HIPAA business associate agreement (BAA) is a contract between a HIPAA-covered entity and a HIPAA business associate (BA).

  • HIPAA disaster recovery plan

    A HIPAA disaster recovery plan is a document that specifies the resources, actions, personnel and data that are required to protect and reinstate healthcare information in the event of a fire, vandalism, natural disaster or system failure. 

  • HIPAA omnibus rule (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 omnibus rule)

    The HIPAA omnibus rule (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 omnibus rule), in a health information technology (HIT) context, is a rule enacted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to modify the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security and Enforcement Rules to implement statutory amendments under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

  • HIPAA Privacy Rule

    The Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, commonly known as the HIPAA Privacy Rule, establishes the first national standards to protect patients' personal health information.

  • HIPAA Security Rule

    The Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information, commonly known as the HIPAA Security Rule, establishes national standards for securing patient data that is stored or transferred electronically.

  • HIT policy committee

    The Health Information Technology (HIT) policy committee is a federal committee created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) that advises the National Coordinator for Health IT on the creation of a nationwide health IT infrastructure.

  • HIT standards committee

    The Health Information Technology (HIT) standards committee is a federal committee created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) that advises the National Coordinator for Health IT on matters of standards, certification criteria and other issues surrounding EHRs and meaningful use.

  • HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act of 2009

    The HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act of 2009 is legislation that was created to stimulate the adoption of electronic health records (EHR) and the supporting technology in the United States.

  • HITSP

    HITSP (Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel) is an organization created to promote standardization and broad scale interoperability among healthcare applications and information systems. The Panel is made up of healthcare experts from both the public and private sectors and includes caregivers, developers, government agencies and end users.

  • HL7 (Health Level Seven International)

    HL7 (Health Level Seven International) is a set of standards, formats and definitions for exchanging and developing electronic health records (EHRs).

  • Hospital Compare

    Hospital Compare is a website that lets consumers compare the quality of hospital outpatient services. The site is hosted by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

  • hybrid health record (HHR)

    A hybrid health record (HHR) is documentation of an individual's health information that is tracked in multiple formats and stored in multiple places. Today, the majority of health records in the United States are considered to be hybrid.

  • I

    ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision)

    The International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition (ICD-10), is a clinical cataloging system that went into effect for the U.S. healthcare industry on Oct. 1, 2015, after a series of lengthy delays.

  • ICD-10-CM (Clinical Modification)

    The ICD-10-CM (Clinical Modification) is a system used by physicians and other healthcare providers to classify and code all diagnoses, symptoms and procedures recorded in conjunction with hospital care in the United States.

  • ICD-10-PCS

    The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Procedure Coding System (ICD-10-PCS) is a U.S. cataloging system for procedural codes that track various health interventions taken by medical professionals.

  • ICD-11

    The International Classification of Disease, Eleventh Revision (ICD-11) is a system of medical coding created by the World Health Organization (WHO) for documenting diseases, signs and symptoms, diagnoses and social circumstances.

  • ICD-9-CM (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification)

    ICD-9-CM is the current medical coding standard used in hospitals in the United States. It is scheduled to be replaced by ICD-10 by Oct. 1, 2015.

  • information blocking

    Information blocking occurs when a person or entity purposely and unreasonably interferes with the sharing or use of electronic health information.

  • J

    Joint Commission

    The Joint Commission is an independent group that presently accredits 20,500 healthcare facilities in the United States by performing onsite evaluations.

  • K

    Kinect

    Kinect is Microsoft’s motion gaming system for the Xbox 360. The system provides a natural user interface (NUI) that allows users to interact intuitively and without any intermediary device, such as a controller.

  • L

    Laboratory Data Sharing Interoperability (LDSI)

    Laboratory Data Sharing Interoperability (LDSI) is an initiative that allows chemistry and hematology lab tests and results to be shared between the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and private or commercial laboratories.

  • laboratory information system

    A laboratory information system (LIS) is software that collects, stores and produces reports from medical test data.

  • legal health record

    A legal health record is the record of patient health that is created by a health care organization for its own business record. It is also the record that is produced upon request from patients or legal services.

  • LOINC (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes)

    LOINC, the Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes, is a standard for identifying medical laboratory observations. It was created in 1994 by the Regenstrief Institute Inc., an Indianapolis-based research organization affiliated with Indiana University, in response to demand for the electronic movement of clinical data.

  • M

    MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015)

    MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015) is U.S. healthcare legislation that provides a new framework for reimbursing clinicians who successfully demonstrate value over volume in patient care.

  • Maintenance Management Information System (MMIS)

    Maintenance Management Information System (MMIS) is a mechanized claims processing and information retrieval system for Medicaid that's required by the federal government.

  • McKesson Corp.

    McKesson Corp. is a provider of medicines, pharmaceutical supplies and health information technology including nursing automation, practice management, clinical decision support systems, secure online healthcare communication and electronic health records systems. Based in San Francisco, it is one of the largest providers of these services in the United States and has more than 32,000 employees.

  • Meaningful Use

    In the context of health IT, meaningful use is a term used to define minimum U.S. government standards for electronic health records (EHR), outlining how clinical patient data should be exchanged between healthcare providers, between providers and insurers and between providers and patients.

  • meaningful use attestation

    Meaningful use attestation, in a health information technology (HIT) context, is a process that documents that an organization or individual has successfully demonstrated meaningful use and is successfully fulfilling the requirements for electronic health records (EHR) and related technology.

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