3 reasons to be thankful in health IT

The healthcare industry has had its share of negative press in 2013, most notably a litany of stories over the past two months detailing the federal government's now infamous launch of HealthCare.gov in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.

To that end, I'd like to put my own twist on a Thanksgiving tradition, and offer up a health IT version of reasons to be thankful. Here are three:

Meaningful Use debates: Whether or not you agree with the Meaningful Use incentive program, the open dialogue about deadlines and delays can only serve to strengthen electronic health record adoption efforts in the long run. In particular, the more input from stakeholders about the realistic possibility of Stage 2 being implemented as scheduled, the better. Representatives from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT spent a good portion of its summer arguing about the merits of the program and the importance of holding fast to current deadlines; many others, including hospital CIOs like Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's John Halamka, have countered that those deadlines--which require 90-day reporting periods for eligible professionals to begin in Jan. 1, 2014--are not attainable, especially in light of a complex certification process for vendor products.

The bottom line is that those stakeholders have gotten a chance to voice their opinions on the matter. Such discussions likely increase the possibility that, no matter what, the right call--or at least a well-thought out and informed call--will be made. That didn't seem to be the case with HealthCare.gov.

Dedicated hospital CIOs: To that end, hospital technology executives seemingly continue to roll with the punches. While many may struggle with a multitude of regulatory deadlines, stacked one on top of the other, they also, by and large, appear to be putting their heads down and grinding to meet those deadlines to the best of their abilities. They are managing to accomplish thse goals while assuring that their facilities remain viable when it comes to taking advantage of IT to improve workflow processes and patient care efforts.

The continuing emergence of mobile and remote tools: Mobile and remote tools enable health professionals to deliver care to patients in even the most dire of situations. For instance, it recently was reported that telemedicine tools helped to save a 7-month-old baby's life at Oregon Health & Science University. Meanwhile, stories continue to run about the promise of mobile apps for treating chronic conditions, such as asthma and diabetes. Cardiologist Eric Topol, the West Endowed Chair of Innovative Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., has said time and again that mobile tools should be the norm in healthcare today; while a lot of that depends on reimbursement models adjusting with the times, at least such technology is available.

So, readers, what are you thankful for with regard to the current health IT landscape? Chime in with your thoughts via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, or in the comments below. - Dan @FierceHealthIT

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