HITECH in High Gear

We’ve known for years that health information technology can improve health care. But until recently, the implementation rate among providers has been low, except for a few early adopters. 

In the last two years, however, there has been a significant upward inflection in the adoption rate. For primary care providers, adoption of a basic EHR increased by half from 19.8 percent in 2008 to 29.6 percent in 2010.

And with HITECH Act programs now in full swing, it looks clear that adoption and use of health information technology will go into high gear. Already, 81 percent of hospitals and 41 percent of office physicians are saying they intend to achieve meaningful use of EHRs and qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments.

A recent edition of the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) helps us understand why the accelerated move to EHRs is so important. This special issue devoted to health information technology presents perspectives on health IT from a wide range of stakeholders—providers, policymakers, and patients. Contributors include representatives of private companies and public agencies, managed care organizations and academic medical centers, medical educators and a medical student—confirmation that the potential of health IT is compelling for a broad spectrum of Americans.

On January 20, I had the pleasure of gathering with some of the editors and contributors for this special issue at the National Press Club. Their insights and stories paint an inspiring picture of the future of health care, made possible by health IT.

The presentations didn’t focus on hardware and software, but on improving health outcomes and increasing quality of care. That’s because health IT is not about technology itself. It’s about the daily work of patient care and making health care better for all. It’s about empowering providers to carry out their mission of delivering quality care to their patients.

How can health IT help accomplish these goals?

In health care, as in so many industries, information plays a vital role. From diagnosis and treatment of an individual, to the allocation of health organization resources, and even real-time response to public health needs, decisions are guided by the available information. With health IT, decision makers on all levels have access to improved and more actionable information. That information makes possible the evidence-based, collaborative care that benefits patients.

Effective patient care takes more than a good doctor—it takes coordination and a critical mass of data. Health IT provides the infrastructure to support those goals at a new level.

Diabetes care is a good example, as illustrated by one of the articles in the issue. Effective interventions to prevent and treat diabetes include not only quality medical care, but also lifestyle modifications, such as diet and exercise changes. This multidisciplinary approach involves not only clinicians and health systems, but also patients, employers, and community organizations. And health IT can help at each step of the way.

Health IT helps identify patients early through risk factor analysis and it helps connect patients with qualified clinicians and nearby exercise and nutrition programs. Health IT also makes it possible to share information over secure networks and provide the statistical basis for both clinical efficacy and cost effectiveness. As the authors point out, this collaborative model supported by health IT can be used to improve outcomes for many other health conditions, including cancer and heart disease.

That’s where the HITECH Act can take this country. The innovations and insights in the AJMC special issue show us we’re on the way to better health care for all.

What signs do you see that health IT is making a difference in the quality of care? Please let us know about your experiences in the comments section below. As more and more health care providers take the leap, sharing experiences (challenges and successes alike) will become even more valuable.

For video footage from the AJMC-sponsored event at the National Press Club on January 20, 2011, visit http://www.ajmc.com/hit-feature.

53 Comments

  1. Personally I think that health care should start to be a federal concern and not just a privat person’s problem. We all should help eachother out in it, or else our society will become monsterous.

  2. diätplan says:

    It’s in reality a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sam Paul says:

    I must say health care is something which needs a lot of attention. We are still ignoring this dept and soon it will become difficult to handle the problems.

  4. Health is a very important issue, and is everyone’s responsibility, the Federal Government must preucuparse more about this situation!. good health is the beginning of a better life we all like to treat us well with delicate patience, and be responsibles.
    Congratulations this post is very interesting
    Astrid

  5. Diyan says:

    This is a great initiative, that Health IT has started and is constantly improving. Indeed a wide network of communication between health care specialists will improve the quality of health care significantly, but according to me the most important part is, where Health IT helps identify patients early through risk factor analysis and it helps connect patients with qualified clinicians and nearby exercise and nutrition programs, as you have stated. It is far better to educate, urge and help people to prevent future diseases, than to treat the symptoms of existing ones. I think health care is one of the fields, in which the money spent is not a significant issue, and investments should not be spared, as it is the case with Health IT.

  6. well if all the politicians would just stop bickering and blaming each other and start to work together maybe we could finally figure all this mess out one day. because we our the ones who pay for it obviously some of them just don’t care Greed greedy greed.,,

  7. Interesting article. Hopefully the Health IT program will help to clear up some of the mess that has been created with the healthcare system in the US. Thanks for sharing!

  8. dave says:

    Technology may introduce new sources of error Technologically induced errors are significant and increasingly more evident in care delivery systems. The sources for these errors include:

    * Prescriber and staff inexperience may lead to a false sense of security; that when technology suggests a course of action, errors are avoided.
    * Shortcut or default selections can override non-standard medication regimens for elderly or underweight patients, resulting in toxic doses.
    * CPOE and automated drug dispensing was identified as a cause of error by 84% of over 500 health care facilities participating in a surveillance system by the United States Pharmacopoeia.
    * Irrelevant or frequent warnings can interrupt work flow.

  9. The video footage at the end was very informative, thanks.

  10. Wade says:

    I agree with the first commentor…why does healthcare have to be an individual responsibility? Most countries have universal healthcare, why can’t we? It is so expensive that I cannot even afford it for my family with the economy that we are in right now!

  11. Healthcare is of utmost importance, and hugely overlooked at present. It’s really about time there was something similar to the UK where a national service is put in place – thus helping each other.

  12. I wish I could fast forward 10-20 years to see where health care will really end up. It’s such a controversial topic.

  13. aderast says:

    hopefully with the HITECT will be in serving the health sector

  14. Anita Clark says:

    I enjoyed the ajmc video…thanks for the share.

  15. Juicing Jana says:

    I personally agree to any program or product that will help in identifying patients earl. There are some avoidable ill health issues that could be prevented if they were identified early enough. Care is good. But I will vote for intervention any day. Intervention is about nipping health issues in the bud so that they don’t even arise in the first place.

  16. I would think that any costs incurred by implementing this technology would be offset by a great reputation of patient care as well as patient referrals. It only makes sense for medical facilities to commit to using HITECH.

  17. Dr Charles says:

    Healthcare IT is rapidly evolving, but I agree that not enough organizations are implementing this helpful technology. However, with the way the economy is picking back up, we should see a dramatic improvement over the next five to ten years.

  18. Adam says:

    The importance of IT in the healthcare sector cannot be over-emphasized. But as we see a greater degree of implementation of IT into the health sector, it would be wise to remember that the technology is only as useful as its implementation.

    The risk of IT can be very high financial investment into infrastructure but no return due to, for instance, untrained staff that cannot operate the hardware.

    Thanks for the post,
    Adam

  19. Tony says:

    As we use the Internet everyday and use it to do many things, health care system should update the IT and provide good technology for clients to update their information.

  20. Mas Harun says:

    I think health care is one of the fields, in which the money spent is not a significant issue, and investments should not be spared, as it is the case with Health IT

  21. Cheryl says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Technology can make such a huge impact to our health. I’m behind this 100%.

  22. FitMole says:

    You guys are right, health care need to update their IT.

    With technology moving at such a fast pace, you can’t afford not to :)

  23. Tyler says:

    You know with the invention of our smart phones, apps installed on our iphone and androids are helping medical specialists keep track of their patients health, so it’s a great thing to see hi tech gear used in medical care.

  24. Dave Smith says:

    This is such a difficult issue due the to speed at which health technology is changing. Investing in technology is great but only if that investment is going to continue, otherwise we’re outdated in a year or two anyway.

  25. Emily says:

    I had no idea that adoption was becoming more popularized. That’s great though! Thanks for the post. Great initiative

  26. Ax Regen says:

    Personally I think that health care is not taken serious enough.
    There are always great plans when are elections afterwards….

    ..Back to the topic Health IT sounds like a great idea!

    Great Article
    Ax

  27. It’s really interesting to think what IT and healthcare will look like in 20 years. I imagine that we will see the emergence of some very disruptive companies in the sector, and that the traditional doctor / patient care paradigm will look very different.

  28. Rick Butler says:

    Health IT has evolved. More and more healthcare providers are seeing the big picture. Smaller healthcare providers are still looking for solutions that fit there budgets and smaller needs. There are some solutions such as support system care tools that address. The desktop PC but plugging into larger information systems for more efficient record keeping is proving a challenge.

  29. Health should be our main concern, not money or cars…. this is not so difficult

  30. oratoria says:

    I am agree with Tony. Technology in health is too important to keep myself in update. As a health profetional (Dentist) I am ever looking for informations of many topics for giving the best service in my clinic to my patients.

    Alberto.

  31. John Madson says:

    I believe that we should be concerned first with prevention.

  32. Thanks for the article. Everything is going to change when the new health care marketplaces launch on October 1. It will be interesting to see how it effects HITECH.

  33. We do need to realize that the most important issue in Health IT is to protect personal health information which can be sold to insurance or credit card companies or your personal details can be used to at hospitals to get health services covered by your insurance plan. Hopefully, this will never happen to any of us and we really should be very careful to whom we trust our personal data.

  34. Edwin says:

    I fully agree to any program or product that will help in identifying patients, as the importance of IT in the healthcare sector cannot be over stated.

  35. Rio says:

    I agree that not enough organizations are implementing this helpful technology !

  36. Mauricio Jimenez says:

    I think everything that can be done to improve our quality of life and our health is fine. For that there is technology to help us solve our problems.

  37. jimmy says:

    I enjoyed the AJMC video. thanks for the share.

  38. Cem Ozturk says:

    It is really amazing to see how technology is advancing and changing our lives! This is only the tip of the iceberg. Who know’s what we will see in the next few years?

    One step closer to cloning, then I can send myself to work.

  39. Healthcare for every American is not a new topic. Politicians have been pushing for it for years. Only this time, people are getting serious about it and not backing down.

  40. Wayne says:

    With the ever evolving computer age, Healthcare IT should be top priority more than it is.

  41. Al says:

    All for this… the more information – and the more accessible that information is, the better. I’d like to see increased IT and communication between traditional health care and non-traditional health care as well.

  42. We’re seeing healthcare begin to get broach the IT world with electronic medical records and being able to get your information with a few clicks. In 5 years, when all health centers are on board, healthcare will be so much easier to gain access to for everyone.

    Great write up.

  43. As you mention above, it will involve a lot of people who are involved in the health care industry in one way or the other. Plus, it will also help revitalize the lives of people and help motivate the coming generations lead a more healthier life.

  44. wendy says:

    With health IT, decision makers on all levels have access to improved and more actionable information.

  45. The HITECH Act sounds like it’s a great way to improve the quality of healthcare in the US. People are always so concerned with healthcare these days … I wonder how the opinion of the general public will change over the years.

  46. health care is something which desires a lot of attention. we are still ignoring this dept and soon it’ll become tough to handle the issues.

  47. Hrgate says:

    With the ever evolving computer age, Healthcare IT should be top priority more than it is.

  48. Vince Astali says:

    Healthcare should be up to the citizen instead of the government. Look what’s going on now.

  49. Winsten Seah says:

    Healthcare IT will be beneficial for the long term but the upfront cost of investment will be a chief concern. This will become a potential hindrance to organization who wants to implement these technological tools.

  50. I agree. i believe health care is something that need lots of attention from our government. everyone at some point will need it.

  51. jean says:

    I think health care is one of the fields, in which the money spent is not a significant issue, and investments should not be spared, as it is the case with Health IT

  52. Health Tips says:

    We’re excited to see the HITECH Act finally underway. After two years of planning, the government’s strategy for getting doctors to use EHRs is becoming a reality. Healthcare organizations are using funds received from Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to pay for the cost of their EHR.
    Very useful information. Thanks for sharing.
    Regard: Johan

  53. I agree 100% that IT systems should be up to date especially in Health care. Our goverment should take this matter seriously. The longer we delay, the harder it’s going to be to get it fixed. Good article.

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