Mostashari: Emphasize training when adopting health IT

To successfully implement technology--such as electronic health record systems--into healthcare processes, providers need to spend ample time ensuring employees are trained to use such tools, according to National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari.

In a recent interview with NPR, Mostashari (pictured) talked about the importance of not only embracing technology in the healthcare industry, but doing so in a responsible manner.

"The key thing is that you can't just plop in technology," he said. "You've got to really work with the people and the processes. You've got to work with the training, and you've got to look at the workflows that you're doing and not just repeat the same processes--broken processes that you were doing before."

The need to share patient information between multiple sets of providers is what differentiates healthcare from other industries, according to Mostashari. "Paper works just fine," he told NPR, "if you want to deliver healthcare the way you sell shoes. … [I]f you want to share information with the patient and engage them as partners in their own care, paper doesn't work just fine."

According to statistics released this morning by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, since the EHR Incentive Programs began two years ago, healthcare professionals have sent 4.6 million patients an electronic copy of their health information from their EHRs. Additionally since 2011, according to CMS, providers have shared more than 4.3 million care summaries with other providers for patients who moved between care settings.

"Electronic health records are transforming relationships between patients and their healthcare providers," CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. "EHRs improve care coordination, reduce duplicative tests and procedures, help patients take more control of their health and result in better overall health outcomes."

A recent report published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation determined that while federal support has spurred major strides in EHR adoption, most organizations using such tools are only doing so on a basic level. According to analyst Michael Cherny, of the International Strategy & Investment Group, further investments in health IT are needed to ensure the effective use of data stored in EHRs.

To learn more:
- here's the NPR interview
- check out the CMS announcement

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