Health IT Strategy for Empowering Consumers Round Two
Jodi G. Daniel | November 19, 2010
Thank you for the thoughtful discussion in response to my blog post “Strategy for Empowering Consumers.” As has consistently been ONC’s experience with the Health IT Buzz Blog, the points made in your responses have both broadened and sharpened our thinking. The blog itself highlights a lesson that has become clear for our communication efforts: we should take greater advantage of social networking tools (and this means much more than blogging) when bringing our policy conversations outside of the walls of HHS.
I said in the last post that we would do more thinking about consumers as part of our strategic planning process. We had a workshop-style meeting last week at ONC, with both ONC folks and some leading thinkers on this topic from around the country (many of whom have also posted on the blog). At that meeting, we used the blog as a discussion guide while talking through each of the objectives.
Now, we would like to continue the conversation online. First, a recap of what we learned from you. Second, revisions to the goal and objectives based on feedback, this time with strategies included.
Please comment freely.
An aside: We have been reconsidering the label “consumer” and thinking about using “individual” instead. Calling people consumers implies that they are necessarily consuming something, whereas an individual may not need to consume anything (health care or otherwise) to manage his/her health more effectively. What do you think?
Previous version: Empower consumers to better manage their health through health IT
What we learned from you: It is not just about changing the behavior of consumers. Health IT offers a tremendous opportunity to change the health care system to become more “consumer-centered.” Yes, consumers should be empowered with health IT to better manage their health; but providers, too, should use health IT to become more collaborative with their patients.
New proposal: Empower consumers with health IT to improve their health and the health care system
Previous version: Engage consumers in federal health IT policy and programs
What we learned from you: In order to include consumers in the health IT policymaking process, we cannot expect them to come to Washington or to find this blog online (although the ones that do are amazing!). To truly be representative, we must go to consumers’ conversations. These conversations are already taking place, whether it is in online forums serving specific demographics, community-based faith groups, or disease advocacy groups. Our job should be to seek out the existing conversations and participate in them, both to solicit input into our policies and programs, and to communicate our health IT messages to consumers.
New proposal: Engage consumers with health IT
Previous version: Accelerate consumer access to electronic health information
What we learned from you: Getting consumers access to their health information is the government’s primary lever in encouraging consumer use of health IT, innovation in the industry, and consumer-centered approaches to care. The meaningful use requirements are a great opportunity to change the incentive structure and make information sharing attractive for providers. Meaningful use requirements, however, need to be complemented by other policies related to consumer information access, such as privacy and security policies (e.g., identification assurance policies). There was also general support for the Blue Button Initiative – a way the government, through the Veterans Health Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is providing consumers with access to their information – as a starting point.
New proposal: Accelerate consumers’ and caregivers’ access to their electronic health information in a format they can use and reuse
Previous version: Foster innovation in consumer health IT
What we learned from you: Data liquidity, including consumer access to their health information, is the first step to fostering innovation. Innovation is not just about technology; there is also a real need for innovation on implementation, replicating successes, and using data in advanced ways. But it is the industry that will be leading any such innovation, not the government. Besides liberating data, the government should provide clear regulatory direction and focus promotion activities on specific innovation hurdles.
New proposal: Encourage innovation in the capture and usefulness of consumer health information
Previous version: Drive consumer-provider electronic communications
What we learned from you: There are a number of established and emerging technologies that take health care beyond the walls of the provider setting. Along with the information access made possible by EHRs, these technologies have real potential for making health care more consumer-centered. In future stages of meaningful use and other efforts that are part of health care reform, the government should be taking advantage of these technologies and the ways they can change patient-provider interactions for the better.
New proposal: Integrate consumer health information and consumer health IT with clinical applications to support consumer-centered care
The overall structure would now look like this:
|Goal: Empower consumers with health IT to improve their health and the health care system