Todd Park: 'Data-powered revolution' driving health innovation

The U.S. is in the midst of a "data-powered revolution in healthcare" that is improving the industry "from the ground up," according to Obama administration Chief Technology Officer Todd Park.

In a post this week to The White House Blog, Park (right) says that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009--under which the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act was enacted--has "catalyzed" the adoption of electronic health records. That, he adds, is leading to "more proactive" care that ultimately will help to shrink health costs.

Park, touting points raised in a commentary published in the New York Times last week by Thomas Friedman, also says that the Affordable Care Act is helping to unleash a "rising tide of innovation" that is putting the latest evidenced-based tools within reach for clinicians.

"These tools are … enabling clinicians to analyze their patient population, understand who needs help … and proactively reach out and give those patients the care they need," Park says.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is similarly optimistic in a second post to The White House Blog, also published this week. She says the government is focused on creating "a smarter healthcare system" that focuses on quality of care rather than quantity, and calls health IT a "critical underpinning" to the creation of new payment and care delivery models.

"There is much work yet to be done to change the habits of the healthcare system," Sebelius (left) says. "But by encouraging transparency and market-based innovation around health data, we are playing to America's greatest strength to solve our most pressing problems."

Park has been a proponent of mixing entrepreneurial innovation with federal government initiatives in healthcare for quite some time. In an interview with FierceHealthIT in late 2011, the then-CTO for HHS talked about the importance of collaboration between the two sides, saying that while HHS can create policies and release open data sets that support health IT innovation, the government is only "one stakeholder in a broader ecosystem."

"It is innovators in the private sector who will actually develop and scale the models, services and technologies necessary to produce better health, better care and lower cost through continual improvement," Park said.

To learn more:
- read Park's blog post
- check out Sebelius' post

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