Special Report

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Electronic health records are seen as the key technology for the adoption of health IT, but despite attractive incentives, the uptake of EHRs has been slow. Commitment to their use finally seems to be solidifying, however, giving confidence to government plans that call for transforming health care in the United States during the next few years.
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If there’s one example of the benefits of an EHR, it is the attempt by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to construct a single, integrated health record that will substantially raise the bar for delivering health care to the nation’s warfighters, from when they enter service to their retirement years.
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Although it’s not a new way of delivering health care services, faster network speeds and new wireless technologies have substantially boosted the capabilities of telehealth. That in turn has transformed the way the health industry sees telehealth as a way of reaching remote and underserved areas and for delivering services to a rapidly growing population of patients who need to be monitored in their homes.
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There’s no doubt that powerful mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers, are reshaping how people consume information and online services. The first wave of mobile health applications is proving the same might be true in health care, and government is leading the way.
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Although the pace of health IT adoption is accelerating, innovation in some key areas has not, leading some to doubt that it will produce the expected improvement in health outcomes and cost reductions. The Obama administration is trying to stimulate innovation through the inventive use of competitive challenges.
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