Health IT Challenges and the Future of Healthcare

Getting health IT “right” is difficult. Thousands of brilliant, creative and industrious people around the world have been working for several decades to realize the vision of making the technology a companion to care providers and patients, helping them make better decisions in support of better health. A scientific field of biomedical and health informatics has evolved around these efforts. Although great progress has been made, great challenges remain. While the health IT of today is largely equal to the task of supporting meaningful use as envisioned for 2011, current technology will be challenged by the more ambitious meaningful use visions of 2013, 2015, and beyond. Ongoing research and innovation will address these challenges

To that end, we announced in December the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) program, as part of our HITECH initiatives. We identified four areas where breakthroughs are required: health IT security, patient-centered cognitive support of clinicians, innovative application and network-platform architectures, and secondary use of EHR data that maintains privacy and security. We invited the public and private sectors to propose collaborative research programs with the goal of developing “breakthrough” innovations. We further challenged applicants to bring the best minds in the country to bear on these key problems.

The response to our call was extraordinary in quality and quantity. The resulting competition was very keen. Today, after careful objective review, we awarded these very significant grants to four leading research institutions that submitted the most outstanding applications: Mayo Clinic College of Medicine (for secondary use), Harvard University (for platform architectures), the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (for cognitive support), and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (for security). All four projects will develop innovative solutions that will find their way into working systems in two years, while also exploring more fundamental problems that require longer term study.

As an informatics researcher and, formerly, a software developer, I am fully aware of how much we are expecting of these four projects. At the same time, I am fully confident that all four awardees are equal to our ambitions for SHARP, and that over the coming years, we will see from these centers breakthrough innovation and published research that will stimulate equally creative work by others.

39 Comments

  1. newager says:

    Health IT has many attractive aspects and being able to collate data to meet patient need im order to best mange resources is perhaps the main one. However, the time and money needed to set the sytem up has in some countries led to frontline services being sacrificed for something that has yet to prove its worth. Its the same with any business beoming computerised the money needs to be found over and above normal running costs.

  2. drive a man wild says:

    The health IT is largely equal to the task of supporting meaningful use as envisioned for 2011, current technology will be challenged by the more ambitious meaningful use visions of 2013, 2015, and beyond. Ongoing research and innovation will address these challenges.

  3. The passage of the Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Bill, is a major achievement by President Obama’s Presidency, and a Historic Moment for the American people.

    What will healthcare be like in five to years from now? Within 2-3 years, the volume of data that will be generated, will be in zattabytes (2-3ZB). Most of this data/information will be created by individuals. How are we going to Store, Maintain, and provide Access to this data/content?

    We need to used some of the Stimulus Funds, in combination with a 50/50 joint venture of Government, and private Sector Investments, and used the combined Funding (i, e, it will Cost up to $300 billions), to Build an intelligent Infrastructure Services for: Broadband, Healthcare IT, smart Transportation systems, and smart Grids.

    BROADBAND, HEALTHCARE, AND THE INTERNET

    We must make maximum Use of our Spectrum Resources. We need to used our Technological strength, to increased the Capacity of this very limited Resource (i, e, increased Air Interface/Spectral efficiency).

    BROADBAND

    The Engine of economic growth in this 21st Century is “Broadband.” We can start by, Deployment of a pure Packet-based, all Optical/IP, Multi-Service National TRANSPORT Network Infrastructure, using optical Ethernet throughout this National “Network of Networks.” This will connect all optical Islands, Nationwide.

    HEALTHCARE IT

    NHIN must be Designed, as a Nationwide, Healthcare Business-Driven Network (HBDN) Infrastructure. This will enabled a Nationwide Interoperability of: electronic health records, electronic medical records, and personal health records. Proper deployment of Health Information Technology (HIT) Solutions, and Training will increased Productivity (i, e, medical data mining/warehousing, risks treatment, service delivery), Efficiency (i, e, medical errors, redundant and inappropriate care), and provide this Nation with a Cost Savings of around 20-30% of our Annual National Healthcare Expenditures (2009, $ 2.5 trillions). This Investment is like the Investments made in the past, in ERA, TVA, the National RailRoad, and the National Transportation Inter-State Highways, which increased productivity and the GDP.

    The Investment in this “Network of Networks”, in addition to new jobs creation and economic recovery, can also Serve as a business driver for: Law Enforcement Nationwide Network, e-Government, e-Commerce, e-Education, e-Healthcare, Bio-Surveillance, Energy and Transportation systems, Social Networking, Entertainment, etc.

    Please See: http://www.gkquoquoi.blogspot.com or http://www.21stcenturyinfrastructure.blogspot.com for additional Info.

    Gadema Korboi Quoquoi
    President & CEO
    COMPULINE INTERNATIONAL, INC.

  4. pell says:

    The full value of investments in electronic medical records, electronic health records and other health IT won’t be realized until the data gathered by those systems finds secondary use, according to a report that was released earlier this month by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

  5. Marie says:

    IT is indeed at the foundations of our way of life in the 21st Century and will continue to be so beyond. Whether it be healthcare or online gaming , IT permeates our lives from bare necessities to entertainment and recreation.

  6. dave says:

    physicians will face a significantly increased number of data reporting requirements in 2012 and 2013. For practice leaders, the decision is what type is right for their office. providers should keep in mind they’ll have to collect vital signs during patient visits, in addition to nurses and medical assistants. The surgeon will need to document his evaluation of the patient.

  7. Paul F Davis says:

    Thank you for sharing your valuable insight and perspective on this topic.

  8. The problem with Health IT is the cost involved for setting up the process and the cost involved in training people. I am a Raritan Dentist and I am currently looking to purchase an IT solution for my office. There are so many software vendors out there that being trained on one makes it difficult to convert to another system. People say having everything digital will make communication between practitioners easier, but has been complicating the process since every manufacturer has their own proprietary software that are not interchangeable between companies.

  9. Tom, I agree. Yes, we are having a problem in college because of the increased costs of creating software. In fact, we are trying to keep the IT problems that we have with our servers at a minimum. Hopefully new technology will come out in the future that will prevent so many of these unnecessary downtimes.

  10. Maria H. DDS says:

    I am kind of in the same boat as Tom. I love the idea of having an IT solution for my office as well, and am currently going through the process of elimination right now, deciding which vendor suits my needs the best. Unfortunately, I am not the techiest person around, so sometimes it causes me more trouble than good, but thats my fault for not learning the software :)

    -Maria

  11. Sharon Fahey says:

    IT advances can have some of the biggest impacts on the quality of healthcare delivery. I know as a medical assistant we have just scratched the surface of what it can do. Of course it also means that people like me will have to get to using more and more technology every day.

    As I look at some of the training curriculum that is offered in medical assistant programs around the country it’s clear there is also a need to provide more IT related training to those entering the fiels if we are going to effectively make use of the advances that are on the horizon.

    For me all this can’t come soon enough.

  12. bichtuyen_bt says:

    Thank you for sharing your valuable insight and perspective on this topic.I am kind of in the same boat as Tom. I love the idea of having an IT solution for my office as well, and am currently going through the process of elimination right now, deciding which vendor suits my needs the best.

  13. Hírek says:

    I’m interested in what the outcome of these four medical health IT project today? Not only do I think of the synergies, but also for practical IT implementations. Databases, testing, implementation, inputs, outputs … painful milestones.

  14. Anna Johnson says:

    Without a doubt the speed of technology advancement in the IT industry has revolutionized the healthcare industry.

    Not only are patients much more likely to benefit immediately because of faster and more accurate diagnosis, but computer technology in the research field has become so powerful the possibilities for finding solutions to medical problems is largely now due to finance and having enough qualified technicians to test and then collate and report on research data findings.

  15. ommrudraksha says:

    Definitely a requirement to have increased data reporting. Need to have necessity to collect signs during visits. Surgeon have the need the evaluate the document.

  16. Jay Victor says:

    With the evolution of technology and the balance of medical science it would interesting to see where the years ahead would look like. The article was informative. Thank You

  17. I totally agree with Sharon when she says that “we have just scratched the surface of what we can do”. I believe that there is a huge potential right in front of us that needs to be released in order to optimize the whole medical field.

  18. IT is really essential to maintain the health of a group as well as in business!

  19. Ben says:

    You would be surprised how behind some medical system operations are in the largest cities in the country. IT advancements have always been an issue just for the staff alone and especially digitizing process converting hard copies into electronic folders for each client or patient. By indexing files of similar patients example “Twins” with different medical histories all in one folder. I have seen this cause some serious issues for doctors and IT technicians a like.

  20. We’ve seen several startups trying to merge health care IT and social media. Anyone see anything with good traction toward this goal?

  21. posthealth says:

    This is very informative post i am new in it services and right now getting trained but i don’t think so person who is trying to train me do even know any of these words because he never told me any of this before. I will show his this post. Very nice work keep it up.

  22. Ladan Zinati says:

    That’s true, in every advancement there is always a great challenge. Healthcare including dentistry stands in the same position that challenges are always there for the practitioner to be more vigilant and aggressive in facing and accepting any changes brought about by the new advance technology especially if the patient’s welfare is at stake.

  23. Very informative, great article! As a practicing dentist, I will be very interested to see what lies in the future for dentistry, particularly with the affordable healthcare act. I practice in a small town and we already see the effects of the healthcare act trickling down from reduced coverage of medical insurances, and insurance companies hitting dentistry (seems to be) harder with fewer benefits for patients. IT training for future dentists will be of the utmost importantce.

    Thanks,

    Eric Steinbicker, DDS

  24. patient confidentiality is of major importance to most citizens.

  25. peter klaven says:

    Very informative article. Thank you so much for the post

  26. Well arranged article with nice quotes. I am working as a dentist. It can happen for anyone who is not tech savvy but it does not take very long to get going with it. IT is really essential to maintain the health of a group as well as in business! Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  27. Stewart says:

    I totally agree with you, it is very important to the industry to have the ability to exchange data via healthcare nationwide. Thanks for the info.

  28. Rick Stone says:

    Health IT is difficult now because above patient’s confidentiality, we are unsure what is most important and what should be handled first. But I’m sure there is going to be this extravagant system for the health professionals to get paid faster through medicare and track patients universally.

  29. Dr.Uday Shah - Teeth Whitening Service Provider says:

    Top IT challenges are:

    1.Choosing the right technology
    2.Finding skilled, affordable IT personnel
    3.Monitoring payments for ANSI-5010 compliance. Etc.

    Dr Uday Shah
    Sunny Family Dental CEO

  30. Nour says:

    Health IT is very useful for everyone , mobile apps is a great idea to apply it.

  31. Thanks for the great information. Keep up the good work!

  32. Dental care says:

    Technology has always been played an important role in healthcare. There are different types of health problems including, dental health, cardiac, mental disorders etc. IT made everything easier than before. Technology is a medium which provides access to research & development.

  33. ika suci says:

    I totally agree with Sharon when she says that “we have just scratched the surface of what we can do”. I believe that there is a huge potential right in front of us that needs to be released in order to optimize the whole medical field.

  34. Cari Kerja says:

    Tom, I agree. Yes, we are having a problem in college because of the increased costs of creating software. In fact, we are trying to keep the IT problems that we have with our servers at a minimum. Hopefully new technology will come out in the future that will prevent so many of these unnecessary downtimes.

  35. IT has certainly made the provision of health and Dental Care easier but at what cost? I believe that along with a rise in the convenience of using information technology must come a heightened sense of responsibility when it comes to privacy.

    Privacy is the no.1 concern for the immediate future with several high-profile and recent incidents involving the NHS and Dental Surgeries in the UK.

    Let’s not stop the race to make care better and more convenient but temper this with respect for the individual.

  36. Advancements in healthcare including dental care, are a necessity in the provision, delivery and management of advanced care. This is true in every area of healthcare but importantly in the area of data security considering the level of data and security breach that we have witnessed in other industries recently. Another important area is cost of care. Poor dental care leads to various health issues. Many people ignore their dental needs due to the prohibitive cost of dental services. I believe IT offer the ability to drive these costs down thereby making care and more especially dental care more affordable.

  37. Cathy Graham says:

    Perhaps the greastest and most exciting challenge of healthcare technology is its ability to completely up-end our current biases about clinical evidence. Most of our “evidence-based” decision making tools are based on incredibly flawed data and evidence. Witness the near complete lack of class I data in virtually every set of clinical practice guidelines for every medical specialty. These guidlines are based on the best quality evidence available. The quality of most of medical research, when compared with other types of research, is abysmal. Why else have we made so many disasterous recommendations for our patients over the years. With the new tools of metadata and NoSQL platforms for data analysis, we need to start over with what we “know”. I hope that the next round of SMART grants will address the very core of what we “know” by encouraging projects that get at how we define and develop medical “evidence”. Overcoming our biases, which are based on flaw data, and actually getting and using quality data to make medical decisions is the greatest challenge for medicine in the 21st century. Hence it offers the greatest potential rewards as well.

Leave a ReplyComment Policy


*