Stress health IT's role in care innovation, not adoption

Rather than stressing adoption of health IT, the industry should be focused on how technology can be part of innovative new strategies to improve care, according to a Health Affairs blog post.

The current Meaningful Use program "has obscured the creative opportunity for clinicians to explore how to use EHRs to improve care, and to see their own actions as part of the solution to effective implementation," write the authors, who encourage rethinking incentives for physicians.

They advocate for approaches focused on technology that support high quality, team-based care that can improve outcomes at the patient and population levels and lead to provider satisfaction.

The existing system supports electronic health records as billing tools, they say. New payment models focused on population health and patient experience can motivate primary care physicians to think creatively about how health IT can be used to improve patient care. These ideas might not require technology, but IT solutions likely will be used to meet these goals, according to the post's authors.

A possible way to achieve this is to exempt some demonstration payment models from Meaningful Use rules coupled with requirements that they explore new patient-centered uses of health IT such as portals, email communication and shared care plans, the authors say.

They also call for changes in how doctors are trained: "This is not to say physicians should be trained to create and structure health IT systems, but rather to recognize problems in clinical practice to which health IT could be productively applied."

A 90-day study from Brigham and Women's Hospital published recently found no association between being a "meaningful user" of EHRs and the quality of care provided to patients of five chronic diseases: hypertension, diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, asthma, and depression

And Dale Sanders, former CIO of Cayman Islands Health Services Administration and current senior vice president for strategy at Health Cataylst, has also argued that the Meaningful Use program has run its course without producing meaningful results for patients and clinicians.

To learn more:
- read the blog post