3 ways health IT can fulfill its promise

Merely making health records digital won't fulfill the promise of health IT to improve care and cut costs, according to a new issue brief from data analytics company Health Fidelity. It urges healthcare organizations to move beyond merely meeting federal mandates--or risk being left behind.

While the $19.2 billion Meaningful Use Incentive Program encouraging adoption of electronic health records has shown success, those systems merely capture and store data, the paper points out.

"As a country, we have taken major strides in capturing clinical information electronically," Dan Riskin, M.D., president and founder of Health Fidelity, said in an announcement. "While this is an important first step, it's far from accomplishing national goals. We now need to use this information to actually improve care--and that will require hard work from patients, providers, payers and government."

Interoperability, big data capabilities, analytics and care-improvement workflow will be required to effectively use the data, and the paper urges healthcare organizations not to rely on EHR vendors alone to provide those, as they're outside those companies' core competencies.

Key issues going forward, it says, include:

  • Better understanding of quality tied to measures proven to reduce costs and improve outcomes
  • Interoperability, so that innovative approaches to analytics don't require massive investments to extract the needed data
  • Full clinical data to enable population health, benchmarking of care and driving resources to high-risk patients

Health Fidelity isn't the only one urging for more steps to be taken in health IT. John Loonsk, former director of interoperability and standards at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, recently referred to the path forward in health IT as "murky" and called for a "reboot" of HITECH efforts.

What's more, a recent RAND Corp. report called for federal incentives to focus technology on the value it provides to health improvement.

To learn more:
- find the issue brief
- read the announcement