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.

  • M

    meaningful use stage 1

    Meaningful use stage 1 is the first phase of the United States federal government's meaningful use incentive program, which details the requirements for the use of electronic health record (EHR) systems by hospitals and eligible health care professionals.

  • meaningful use stage 2

    Meaningful use stage 2 is the second phase of the meaningful use incentive program that details the second phase of requirements for the use of electronic health record (EHR) systems by hospitals and eligible health care providers.

  • meaningful use stage 3

    Meaningful use stage 3 is the third phase of the federal incentive program that details requirements for the use of electronic health record systems by hospitals and eligible healthcare professionals. However, the new MACRA law will change the overall meaningful use program, which may eventually lessen stage 3's influence.

  • medical 3-D printing

    Medical 3-D printing is a growing field dedicated to creating medical implants, devices, prosthetics and even human tissue using 3-D printing technology.

  • medical device class (MDC)

    Medical device class (MDC) is a category that defines the amount of risk involved with a medical device in the United States and the proper procedures that must be followed when manufacturing and using the device.

  • medical practice management (MPM) software

    Medical practice management (MPM) software is a collection of computerized services used by healthcare professionals and administration to streamline day-to-day tasks within a medical practice and improve the efficiency of operations and quality of patient care.

  • medical scribe

    A medical scribe is a healthcare employee that assists medical professionals with documenting patients' medical histories.

  • medical transcription (MT)

    Medical transcription (MT)  is the manual processing of voice reports dictated by physicians and other healthcare professionals into text format. 

  • medical transcription software (MTS)

    Medical transcription software (MTS) is a specialized speech recognition program that includes a database of medical terminology.

  • Meditech (Medical Information Technology Inc.)

    Meditech (Medical Information Technology Inc.) is an electronic health record vendor that holds a 19% market share in the hospital industry, but faces intense competition.

  • mHealth (mobile health)

    mHealth (mobile health) is a general term for the use of mobile phones and other wireless technology in medical care.

  • mHealth Alliance

    MHealth Alliance is non-profit organization hosted by the United Nations Foundation that focuses on advancing mHealth technology in global health care through policy research, advocacy and outreach.

  • Microsoft HealthVault

    Microsoft HealthVault, which launched in October 2007, is a free personal health record (PHR) service offered by Microsoft that allows individuals to store personal health and fitness information in a central location. The Web-based service is available to anyone with a Microsoft account.

  • N

    National Alliance for Health Information Technology (NAHIT)

    The National Alliance for Health Information Technology, or NAHIT, was formed in 2002 in an effort to promote the use of health IT.

  • National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS)

    The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) is an advisory body to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

  • National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII)

    The National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII) was a government initiative first proposed under former President George W. Bush that targeted the improvement of health care by setting standards for interoperability.

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the principal federal agency for health research in the United States. The NIH is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • national provider identifier (NPI)

    A national provider identifier (NPI) is a unique ten-digit identification number required by HIPAA for covered healthcare providers in the United States.

  • National Quality Forum (NQF)

    The National Quality Forum (NQF) is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that is dedicated to improving the quality of health care in the United States. To that end, the NQF embodies a three-part mission -- to set goals for performance improvement, to endorse standards for measuring and reporting on performance and to promote educational and outreach programs. NQF members include purchasers, physicians, nurses, hospitals, certification bodies and fellow quality improvement organizations.

  • National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP)

    The National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) is a federal program run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology that provides third-party accreditation to laboratories in the U.S.

  • Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN)

    The Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) is a set of standards, services and policies that enable secure health information exchange (HIE) over the Internet.

  • NHIN Direct

    NHIN Direct is a project being developed by the Nationwide Health Information Network that aims to enable secure health information exchange (HIE) over the Internet for primary care physicians, specialists and public health agencies.

  • O

    Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

    The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is an organization within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS),

  • ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology)

    The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, abbreviated ONC, is an entity within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

  • OpenEMR

    OpenEMR is free, open source software for the health care industry. OpenEMR integrates medical practice management, electronic medical record (EMR), patient scheduling and electronic billing functionality.

  • P

    PACS (picture archiving and communication system)

    PACS (picture archiving and communication system) is a medical imaging technology used primarily in healthcare organizations to securely store and digitally transmit electronic images and clinically-relevant reports.

  • patient engagement

    Patient engagement is an ideal healthcare situation in which people are well-informed about -- and motivated to be involved -- in their own medical care.

  • patient record locator

    A patient record locator is a computer service that allows doctors and nurses to obtain a patient’s electronic health records including electronic medical records, ambulatory medical record and prescription data.

  • patient-generated health data (PGHD)

    Patient-generated health data (PGHD) is data created, recorded or gathered by or from patients, family members or caregivers to help address a medical concern.

  • personal health record (PHR)

    A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of health-related information that is documented and maintained by the individual it pertains to.

  • pharmaceutical detailing

    Detailing is a marketing technique used by pharmaceutical companies wherein a pharmaceutical representative visits and attempts to persuade a doctor to prescribe a certain company’s product more often.

  • PHI breach (protected health information breach)

    A PHI breach is unauthorized access, use or disclosure of individually identifiable health information that is held or transmitted by a healthcare organization or its business associates.

  • point of care (POC) testing

    Point of care (POC) testing is medical testing that is performed outside of a laboratory setting. Common examples of POC test tools include blood glucose monitors, thermometers, home pregnancy tests and rapid strep tests.

  • population health management (PHM)

    Population health management (PHM) is a discipline within the healthcare industry that studies and facilitates care delivery across the general population or a group of individuals.

  • Practice Fusion

    Practice Fusion Inc. is a San Francisco-based company that developed a free electronic health record (EHR) system available to physicians as software as a service (SaaS).

  • precision medicine (PM)

    Precision medicine (PM) is a rapidly evolving development in healthcare in which physicians and other caregivers consider differences in genes, socioeconomic status and lifestyles when devising treatment regimens for patients.

  • prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP)

    A prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) is an electronic database that collects designated data on controlled substances that are prescribed and dispensed within a state.

  • problem list

    A problem list is a document that catalogs a patient's health problems, including nontransitive illnesses, injuries and anything else that has or is affecting the patient.

  • Project Nightingale

    Project Nightingale is a controversial partnership between Google and Ascension, the second largest health system in the United States. The partnership, which began in 2018, has provided Google with access to the medical records of over 50 million people.

  • protected health information (PHI) or personal health information

    Protected health information (PHI), also referred to as personal health information, generally refers to demographic information, medical histories, test and laboratory results, mental health conditions, insurance information, and other data that a healthcare professional collects to identify an individual and determine appropriate care.

  • Public Health Data Standards Consortium (PHDSC)

    The Public Health Data Standards Consortium (referred to as PHDSC or the Consortium) is an independent agency that focuses on improvements in health information technology for both the health care industry and the public health market.

  • Public Health Information Network

    Public Health Information Network (PHIN) is an initiative developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to establish and implement a framework for sharing public health information electronically.

  • Q

    Quiz: health IT

    Think you know a bit about health care IT? Try our quiz!

  • R

    Radiology Information System (RIS)

    A RIS is the traditional core software system for electronically managing medical images, scheduling and billing in hospital radiology departments and physician practices.

  • Reference Information Model (RIM)

    The Reference Information Model (RIM) is an information model for health care data developed by Health Level 7 International (HL7). Based on the Unified Modeling Language (UML), the Reference Information Model consists of a generic set of classes from which more specific health classes are derived. For example, subclasses of the class “act” include observation and procedure.

  • Regional Extension Center (REC)

    A Regional Extension Center (REC) is an organization that has received funding under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) to assist health care providers with the selection and implementation of electronic health record (EHR) technology.

  • Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO)

    A Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) is a group of organizations within a specific area that share healthcare-related information electronically according to accepted healthcare information technology (HIT) standards.

  • registered health information technician (RHIT)

    A registered health information technician (RHIT) is a certified professional who stores and verifies the accuracy and completeness of electronic health records.

  • remote patient monitoring (RPM)

    Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a subcategory of homecare telehealth that allows patients to use mobile medical devices or technology to gather patient-generated health data (PGHD) and send it to healthcare professionals.

  • revenue cycle management (RCM)

    Revenue cycle management (RCM) is the financial process, utilizing medical billing software, that healthcare facilities use to track patient care episodes from registration and appointment scheduling to the final payment of a balance.

  • RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator)

    An RHIA, or registered health information administrator, is a certified professional who oversees the creation and use of patient health information, including analyzing that data.

  • RxNorm

    RxNorm is a catalog of the standard names given to clinical drugs and drug delivery devices in the United States to enable interoperability and clear communication between electronic systems, regardless of software and hardware compatibility.

  • S

    serious reportable event (SRE)

    A serious reportable event (SRE) is an incident involving death or serious harm to a patient resulting from a lapse or error in a healthcare facility. The National Quality Forum (NQF) coined the term to refer to "preventable, serious, and unambiguous adverse events that should never occur.”

  • SERMO

    SERMO is an online social network of verified physicians where they can anonymously discuss patient cases and non-medical subjects.

  • SNOMED CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine -- Clinical Terms)

    SNOMED CT (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine -- Clinical Terms) is a standardized, multilingual vocabulary of clinical terminology that is used by physicians and other health care providers for the electronic exchange of clinical health information.

  • T

    telemedicine (telehealth)

    Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the telecommunications infrastructure.

  • telepathology

    Telepathology is the area of telemedicine involving the transmission of pathological specimen images for remote study and diagnosis of disease.

  • telestroke (telestroke services)

    Telestroke is a web-based approach to treating stroke victims who have not been admitted to a hospital. In its most basic form, a telestroke system requires a neurologist and attending nurse to have a high-speed Internet connection and videoconferencing capabilities through a phone, laptop, tablet or desktop computer.

  • U

    U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM)

    The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the largest biomedical library in the world.

  • Unified Medical Language System (UMLS)

    Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) is a comprehensive list of biomedical terms for developing computer systems capable of understanding the specialized vocabulary used in biomedicine and health care.

  • US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is a cabinet-level agency in the executive branch of the federal government. Its mission is to enhance and protect the well-being of all Americans by providing effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health and social services.

  • V

    value-based healthcare

    Value-based healthcare, also known as value-based care, is a payment model that rewards healthcare providers for providing quality care to patients.

  • vendor neutral archive (VNA)

    A vendor neutral archive (VNA) is a technology that stores medical images in a standard format and interface, making them accessible to healthcare professionals regardless of what proprietary system created the images.

  • Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER)

    Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) is an electronic health record program that tracks the medical history of American soldiers through their entire service, from active duty to veteran status.

  • W

    wireless medical telemetry services (WMTS)

    WMTS (wireless medical telemetry services) is the remote monitoring of a patient's physiological parameters, such as such as pulse and respiration rates, with radio technology.

  • Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT2)

    Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT2) is an organization dedicated to fostering the use of technology within both the public and private sectors of the health care industry.

  • Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)

    Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) is a society of radiologists and similar health scientists that seeks to encourage connections between colleagues and provide scientists with a platform for radiology education and research.

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