Inadequate integration of care between different providers is one of the biggest barriers to improving healthcare and patient safety, a new report contends--and it's a barrier health IT is intended to break down.
The report, "Order From Chaos: Accelerating Care Integration," released by the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation, concludes "momentum is building to develop the institutions and the system supports that can provide integrated, patient-centered care."
But the report also warns that "until the language of care integration creates a positive view that offsets the popular mythology of today, it will be hard for system transformers to carry out their work." It will be up to healthcare leaders to effectively explain why integration benefits all patients, the authors say.
Health IT is a key part of that story, one of the report authors tells InformationWeek Healthcare.
"IT is a substantial enabler" to care integration, David M. Lawrence, M.D., retired chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, says. "You almost cannot do complex medical care without that kind of connectivity."
He tells the publication that there's too much data for doctors to sift through because healthcare lags other industries in gathering and processing large amounts of information. The more complex the case, he says, the more need for health IT to manage the information, InformationWeek Healthcare reports.
The report points to six areas its authors say must improve for integration of care to improve, as noted in report highlights from the Lucian Leape Institute:
- Making the link between care integration and patient safety common knowledge among all stakeholders.
- Involving patients as active participants in care; as reviewers of their care and care processes; and in the design of care processes.
- Creating ways to quantify the links between care integration, clinical outcomes, and financial impact.
- Allowing for robust assessment of whether effective integration is actually taking place.
- Creating curricula, not only for medical schools, but also for hospital boards and leadership teams, that focus on the issues of patient safety and care integration.
- Advancing research and technology to support care integration throughout the country.