05 Oct Reflections on National Health IT Week
Stephen S. Hau, Acting Chief Technology Officer, xG Health Solutions, October 5, 2017
During this year’s National Health IT Week, #NHITWeek, it’s worth appreciating the progress the industry has made while also acknowledging some of the shortcomings that still need to be addressed.
Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act has been the law of the land for nearly a decade. As a direct result, today, most providers have implemented an electronic health record in their practices. Perhaps even more impressive, the Office of the National Coordinator reports that the majority of hospitals now electronically exchange clinical information with other authorized providers. Given the size of the American healthcare system and the sheer number of providers, this is truly an impressive feat.
That said, the promise of EHRs helping to drive “better, cheaper healthcare” is still often unrealized. EHRs are far from all-knowing, expert-systems that can alone improve patient outcomes. Lack of interoperability, limited access to structured (clean) clinical data, and complex care team coordination remain huge challenges for the health IT industry.
Until these and other shortfalls of EHRs are addressed, care management systems play a key role in helping providers make informed decisions and help deliver positive outcomes. Generally, care management systems combine the benefits of data from electronic systems, evidence-based content, and provider empowerment. Software and data help identify high-risk patients and prioritize actions, and providers equipped with relevant, evidence-based content help enable the appropriate actions.
As the health IT industry continues to evolve, evidenced-based content is likely to become increasingly embedded within hospital-based EHRs. This will enable organizations to accelerate their path to value transformation, which is required to implement and sustain high performing population health management programs.