'Playbook' aims to bring public health, primary care together via HIT

Doctors from Duke University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the de Beaumont Foundation this week launched the "Practical Playbook," an initiative that aims to bring public health, primary care coordination and population health together through the use of health IT.

According to a recent post on the Health IT Buzz blog by Brett Coughlin, a health information specialist at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the playbook is an online repository of tools, resources and case studies.

"Health IT is essential to aggregate the vast amounts of information--data--so it can be used in a timely fashion to make health care decisions," Jim Sprague, chair of the de Beaumont Foundation--the philanthropy behind the Practical Playbook--told Health IT Buzz. "Otherwise, you are just filling in the blanks."

The effort is comprised of "local, state and regional primary care groups and public health pros who have partnered up to improve population health," according to Sprague.

Denise Koo, M.D., senior advisor for health systems in the CDC's Office of Public Health Scientific Services, told Coughlin that health IT creates a "feedback loop" between public health practitioners and doctors in communities, and that the playbook will help "zero in on what we are doing right."

Sprague used a football analogy to describe the tool.

"Your football team is over there, and I see what you're doing, and I adjust my tactics," Sprague said. "You see what I'm doing and you adjust. This is about bringing all the public health work to bear in the clinical world."

Judy Murphy, deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at ONC, told FierceHealthIT in an exclusive interview last month that she can't help but get excited when talking about the potential of population health management, a facet of care she calls "equally important" to interoperability.

"Now that information is all electronic, we have unbelievable capabilities of being able to pull amalgamated data together to understand what kinds of care works and what doesn't," Murphy said.

Last summer, HIMSS unveiled a resource aimed at helping providers and payers evaluate the impact of their technology decisions. The tool--the HIMSS Health IT Value Suite--creates a "common vocabulary" that helps to provide common ground for health IT stakeholders.

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