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Health Information Technology Definitions Source: LaTour


Data or information that is not represented in an encoded, computer-readable format

Application Programming Interface (API)

A set of definitions of the ways in which one piece of computer software communicates with another or a programmer makes requests of the operating system or another application; operates outside the realm of the direct user interface

Application Service Provider (ASP)

A third-party payer service company that delivers, manages, and remotely hosts standardized applications software via a network through an outsourcing contract based on fixed, monthly usage or transaction-based pricing

Applied Healthcare Informatics

Automated information systems applied to healthcare delivery business and work-flow processes, including the diagnosis, therapy, and systems of managing health data and information within the health-care setting

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

High-level information technologies used in developing machines that imitate human qualities such as learning and reasoning

Audit Trails

A chronological set of computerized records that provides evidence of information system activity (log-ins and log-outs, file accesses) used to determine security violations


The process of extracting and translating dictated and then transcribed free-text data (or dictated and then computer-generated discrete data) into ICD-9-CM and CPT evaluation and management codes for billing and coding purposes

Automated Forms-Processing (e-forms) Technology

Technology that allows users to electronically enter data into online, digital forms and electronically extract data from online, digital forms for data collection or manipulation

Bar-Coding Technology

A method of encoding data that consists of parallel arrangements of dark elements, referred to as bars, and light elements, referred to as spaces, and interpreting the data for automatic identification and data collection purposes

Bit-Mapped Data

Data made up of pixels displayed on a horizontal and vertical grid or matrix

Care Maps

A proprietary care-planning tool similar to a clinical protocol that outlines the major aspects of treatment on the basis of diagnosis or other characteristics of the patient

Clinical Care Plans

Care guidelines created by healthcare providers for individual patients for a specified period of time

Clinical Informatics

A field of information science concerned with the management of data and information used to support the practice and delivery of patient care through the application of computers and computer technologies

Clinical Information System (CIS)

A category of a healthcare information that includes systems that directly support patient care

Clinical Messaging System

Secure messaging systems that are important, persuasive tools included in a broad set of contextual collaboration tools for clinicians

Clinical Pathways a.k.a. Clinical Practice Guidelines

A detailed step-by-step guide used by healthcare practitioners to make knowledge-based decisions related to patient care and issued by an authoritative organization such as a medical society or government agency

Clinical Workstation

A single point of access that includes a common user interface to view information from disparate applications and to launch applications

Clinical/Medical Decision Support System

A special sub-category of clinical information systems that is designed to help healthcare providers make knowledge-based clinical decisions

Clinical/Physician Web Portals

The media for providing clinician/physician access to the provider organization's multiple sources of data from any network-connected device

Computer Output Laser Disk/ Enterprise Report Management (COLD/ERM) Technology

Technology that electronically stores the documents and distributes them with fax, email, Web, and traditional hard-copy print processes

Computer-Assisted Coding

The process of extracting and translating dictated and then transcribed free-text data (or dictated and then computer-generated discrete data) into ICD-9-CM and CPT evaluation and management codes for billing and coding purposes

Consumer Health

Providing services that accommodate more knowledgeable patients while helping them to become more informed and to participate as partners in their own healthcare

Consumer Informatics

The field of information science concerned with the management of data and information used to support consumers by consumers (the general public) through the application of computers and computer technologies


The substantive or meaningful components of a document of collection of documents

Continuous Speech Input

The quality of speech/voice recognition technology that does not require users to pause between words to allow the computer to distinguish between the beginnings and endings of words


The dates, numbers, images, symbols, letters, and words that represent basic facts and observations about people, processes, measurements, and conditions

Data Marts

A well-organized, user-centered, searchable database system that usually draws information from a data warehouse to meet the specific needs of the users

Data Mining

The process of extracting information from a database and then quantifying and filtering discrete, structured data

Data Repositories

An open-structure database that is not dedicated to the software of any particular vendor or data supplier, in which data from diverse sources are stored so that an integrated, multidisciplinary view of the data can be achieved; also called a central data repository or, when related specifically to healthcare data, a clinical data repository

Data Types

A technical category of data (text, numbers, currency, date, memo, and link data) that a field in a database can contain

Data Warehouses

A database that makes it possible to access data from multiple databases and combine the results into a single query and reporting interface

Data Warehousing

The acquisition of all the business data and information from potentially multiple, cross-platform sources, such as legacy databases, departmental databases, and online transaction-based databases, and then the warehouse storage of all the data in one consistent format

Decision Support Systems

A computer-based system that gathers data from a variety of sources and assists in providing structure to the data by using various analytical models and visual tools in order to facilitate and improve the ultimate outcome in decision-making tasks associated with non-routine and non-repetitive problems

Dental Informatics

A field of information science concerned with the management of data and information used to support the practice and delivery of dental healthcare through the application of computers and computer technologies

Diagnostic Image Data

Bit-mapped images used for medical or diagnostic purposes (for example, chest x-rays or computed tomography scans)


1. A data transmission type based on data that have been binary encoded. 2. A term that refers to the data or information represented in an encoded,

Digital Signature Management Technology

The practice of validating the identity of an individual sending data through the use of an electronic signature

Discrete Data

Data that represent separate and distinct values or observations; that is, data that contain only finite numbers and have only specified values


Any analog or digital, formatted, and preserved "container" of data or information

Document Image Data

Bit-mapped images based on data created and stored on analog paper or photographic film

Document-Imaging Technology

The practice of electronically scanning written or printed paper documents into an optical or electronic system for later retrieval of the document of parts of the document if parts have been indexed

Document Management Technology

Technology that organizes and assembles, secures, and shares documents, and includes such functions as document version control, tech in-check out control, document access control, and text and word searches


The use of the Internet and its derived technologies to integrate all aspects of business-to-business and business-to-consumer activities, processes, and communications


The application of e-commerce to the healthcare industry, including electronic data interchange and links among healthcare entities

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

A standard transmission format using strings of data for business information communicated among the computer systems of independent organizations

Electronic Document/ Content Management System

A storage solution based on digital scanning technology in which source documents are scanned to create digital images of the documents that can be stored electronically on optical disks

Electronic Medical Record (EMR)

An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conforms to nationally recognized standards and that can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff across more than one healthcare organization

Electronic Records Management Technology

Systems that create and preserve electronic records


The process of transforming text into an unintelligible string of characters that can be transmitted via communications media with a high degree of security and then decrypted when it reaches a secure destination

Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI)

An index that provides access to multiple repositories of information from overlapping patient populations that are maintained in separate systems and databases

Evidence-Based Medicine

Healthcare services based on clinical methods that have been thoroughly tested through controlled, peer-reviewed bio-medical sciences

Executive Information System (EIS)

An information system system designed to combine financial and clinical information for use in the management of business affairs of a healthcare organization

Expert Decision Support System

A decision support system that uses a set of rules or encoded concepts to construct a reasoning process

Extensible Markup Language (XML)

A standardized computer language that allows the interchange of data as structured text


A system of connections of private Internet networks outside an organization's firewall that uses Internet technology to enable collaborative applications among enterprises

Free-Text Data

Data that are narrative in nature

Geographic Information System (GIS)

A decision support system that is capable of assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying geographically referenced data and information

Gesture Recognition Technology

A method of encoding handwritten, print, or cursive characters and of interpreting the characters as words or the intent of teh writer

Health Information Exchanged (HIE)

The exchange of health information electronically between providers and others with the same level of interoperability, such as labs and pharmacies

Health Information Management (HIM)

An allied health profession that is responsible for ensuring the availability, accuracy, and protection of the clinical information that is needed to deliver healthcare services and to make appropriate healthcare-related decisions

Health Information Technology (HIT)

A term that encompasses the technical roles that process health data and records, such as classification, abstracting, retrieval, and so on

Health 2.0

Web 2.0 technologies and tools used in the healthcare industry

Healthcare Informatics

The field of information science concerned with the management of all aspects of health data and information through the application of computers and computer technologies

HyperText Markup Language (HTML)

A standardized computer language that allows the electronic transfer of information and communications among many different information systems

Identity Management

In the master patient index, policies and procedures that manage patient identity, such as prohibiting the same record number for duplicate patients or duplicate records for one patient


A field of study that focuses on the use of technology to improve access to, and utilization of, information


Factual data that have been collected, combined, analyzed, interpreted, and converted into a form that can be used for a specific purpose

Information Management

The acquisition, organization, analysis, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of information to support decision-making activities

Information Science

The study of the nature and principles of information

Information Systems (ISs)

An automated system that uses computer hardware and software to record, manipulate, store, recover, and disseminate data

Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) Technology

A method of encoding handwritten, print, or cursive characters and of interpreting the characters as words or the intent of the writer

Intelligent Document Recognition (IDR) Technology

Technology that automatically recognizes analog items, such as tangible materials or documents, or recognizes characters or symbols from analog items, enabling the identified data to be quickly, accurately, and automatically entered into digital systems


The ability, generally by adoption of standards, of systems to work together


Adjective form of interoperability


Verb form of interoperability


A private information network that is similar to the Internet and whose servers are located inside a firewall or security barrier so that the general public cannot gain access to information housed within the network

Logical (or Conceptual) Repository

The compilation of multiple physical repositories

Management Information Systems (MIS)

A computer-based system that provides information to a healthcare organization's managers for use in making decisions that affect a variety of day-to-day activities

Mark Sense Technology

Technology that detects the presence or absence of hand-marked characters on analog documents; used for processing questionnaires, surveys, and tests, such as filled-in circles by Number 2 pencils on exam forms

Master Patient Index (MPI)

A list or database created and maintained by a healthcare facility to record the name and identification number of every patient who has ever been admitted or treated in the facility

Medical Informatics

A field of information science concerned with the management of data and information used to diagnose, treat, cure and prevent disease through the application of computers and computer technologies


Descriptive data that characterize other data to create a clearer understanding of their meaning and to achieve greater reliability and quality of information

Motion or Streaming Video/Frame Data

A medium for storing, manipulating, and displaying moving images in a format, such as frames, that can be presented on a computer monitor


The combination of free-text, raster or vector graphics, sound, and motion video/frame data

Natural Language Processing Technology

The extraction of unstructured or structured medical word data, which are then translated into diagnostic or procedural codes for clinical and administrative applications

Neural Networks

Nonlinear predictive models that, using a set of data that describe what a person wants to find, detect a pattern to match a particular profile through a training process that involves interactive learning

Nursing Informatics

The field of information science concerned with the management of data and information used to support the practice and delivery of nursing care through the application of computers and computer technologies

Object-Oriented Database

A type of database that uses commands that act as small, self-contained instructional units (objects) that may be combined in various ways

Online/ Real-Time Transaction Processing (OLTP)

The real-time processing of day to day business transactions from a database

Open Source Technology

Applications whose source (human readable) code is freely available to anyone who is interested in downloading the code

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Technology

A method of encoding text from analog paper into bit-mapped images and translating the images into a form that is computer readable

Outcomes Management

The process of systematically tracking a patient's clinical treatment and responses to that treatment, including measures of morbidity and functional status, for the purpose of improving care

Par Level

The accepted, standard inventory level for all supplies and equipment in an organization

Patient/ Consumer Web Portals

The media for providing patient/member access to the provider organization's multiple sources of data from any network-connected device

Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

A hand-held microcomputer, without a hard drive, that is capable of running applications, such as e-mail and providing access to data and information, such as notes, phone lists, schedules, and laboratory results, primarily through a pen device

Personal Health Record (PHR)

An electronic or paper health record maintained and updated by an individual for himself or herself

Physical Data Repository

A repository organized into data fields, data records, and data files, storing structured, discrete, clinical, administrative, and financial data as well as unstructured, patient free-text, bit-mapped, real audio, streaming video, or vector graphic data

Physiological Signal Processing Systems

Systems that store vector graphic data based on the human body's signals and create output based on the lines plotted between the signals' points


An abbreviation for the term picture element, which is defined by many tiny bits of data or points

Point-of-Care Information Systems

A computer system that captures data at the location (for example, bedside, exam room, or home) where the health care service is performed


In healthcare, a detailed plan of care for a specific medical condition based on investigative studies; in medical research, a rule or procedure to be followed in a clinical trial; in a computer network, a protocol is used to address and ensure delivery of data

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

A system of digital certificates and other registration authorities that verify and authenticate the validity of each party involved in a secure transaction

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

An automatic recognition technology that uses a device attached to an object to transmit data to a receiver and does not require direct contact

Raster Image

A digital image or digital data made up of pixels in a horizontal and vertical grid or a matrix instead of lines plotted between a series of points

Real Audio Data

The storing, manipulating, and displaying of sound in a computer-readable format

Record Locator Service (RLS)

A key infrastructure component of the Common Framework to support connectivity and interoperability

Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO)

An organization that manages the local deployment of systems promoting and facilitating the exchange of healthcare data within a national health information network

Relational Database

A type of database that stores data in predefined tables made up of rows and columns

Secure Messaging Systems

A system that eliminates the security concerns that surround e-mail, but retains the benefits of proactive, traceable, and personalized messaging

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software that is provided through an outsourcing contract

Speech Recognition Technology

Technology that translates speech into text

Structured Data

Binary, computer-readable data


The principles of a classification system, such as data classification, and the study of the general principles of scientific classification

Text Mining

The process of extracting and then quantifying and filtering free-text data

Unstructured Data

Nonbinary, human-readable data

Vector Graphic (or Signal Tracing) Data

Digital data that have been captured as points and are connected by lines ( a series of point coordinates) or areas (shapes bounded by lines)

Web Content Management Systems

Systems in which information placed in a Web site can be labeled and tracked so that it can be easily located, modified, and reused

Web Portal

A Web site entryway through which to access, find, and deliver information

Web Services

An open, standardized way of integrating disparate, Web browser-based and other applications

Web 2.0

The second generation of Internet-based services that emphasizes online collaboration and sharing among users; some of these applications and technologies include blogs, social networks, content communities, wikis, and podcasts

Web-Based Systems and Applications

Systems and applications that use Internet technology

Wireless Technology

A type of technology that uses wireless networks and wireless devices to access and transmit data in real time

Workflow Technology

Technology that automatically routes electronic documents into electronic in-baskets of its department clerks or supervisors for disposition decisions

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