Sutter CMIO: Care improvement requires data sharing, interoperability

Healthcare providers should embrace the benefits of electronic health information exchange for the sake of patient quality rather than remain apprehensive about sharing data with competitors, according to Christopher Jaeger, chief medical information officer at Sacramento, California-based Sutter Health.

Doing so, Jaeger tells Becker's Hospital CIO in a recent interview, will help to boost care coordination efforts, which in turn can improve care efficiency, resulting in fewer admissions and readmissions. For instance, HIE use, according to research published in March from Weill Cornell Medical College, holds the potential to reduce hospitalizations from the emergency department.

"To provide patients with the right care at the right time and in the right place, organizations must share patient information," Jaeger tells Becker's. He adds that use of such tools will "empower" physicians in their care delivery efforts.

Jaeger also said interoperability is essential to that vision, calling the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's recently unveiled interoperability plan "aggressive" but necessary to move forward. In an ideal world, he says, patients would be at the center of care efforts and would have seamless and secure access to their own records, along with providers, family members and other care proxies, which matches ONC's vision.

ONC's plan, however, envisions that such a system won't be ready for another 10 years.

"It will take time to build a fully interoperable infrastructure of coordinated care and communication across healthcare providers, patients and public health entities that improves healthcare quality, lowers healthcare costs and improves population health," the plan's authors say. "No one person, organization or government agency alone can realize this vision of an interconnected health system."

Ten years after the inception of ONC, the California HealthCare Foundation, in a recent report, calls HIE efforts a work in progress.

"[A]fter HITECH's investments, the primary question many experts are struggling with is: What constitutes the right mix of government HIT programs versus market forces to continue development of an HIT infrastructure that can support higher quality, more cost-effective healthcare?" the report's authors say.

To learn more:
- here's the Becker's interview