Once again, HIMSS is asking for perspective about the value of Health IT. The organization asked members of the social media and blogging community to respond to this very question last year for its second year celebrating National Health IT Week. It’s doing so again in preparation of #HIMSS14.
As I pointed out last year, even though it seems like a simple question, there still don’t appear to be any simple answers. There remains different answers depending on who you ask. So, again, instead of offering my lone opinion, I’ve asked a variety of folks to respond to the question, “What is the value of health IT,” based on their insight and experience serving the space.
Phyllis Teater, chief information officer, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
The value of health IT lies in its ability to address three of the major, although competing, forces of change in healthcare. The need to standardize care, personalize care, and reduce costs requires the synthesis of vast amounts of data as well as dramatic changes to workflow and process. I can conceive of no way to go about pursuing these changes without technology. The old adage “you cannot improve what you cannot measure” tells us that improving health care requires us to leverage our data, turning it into knowledge and to then build the new workflows that will change the way we deliver care.
John Backhouse, executive director of the Omni Program, Information Builders
Health IT is the means for providing the best possible data at the point of care. It addresses the who, what, when and where of a patient’s care, which helps healthcare providers enhance the patient experience and deliver high-quality of care to improve health and well-being, preserve privacy and ensure security. Health IT facilitates innovation and overcomes interoperability challenges that gives providers transparency for the patient pathway to improve quality of care and minimize clinical and financial costs by eliminating duplicate patient records, incomplete medical histories, incorrect medications, clinical errors, billing mistakes, and avoidable readmissions, as well as correcting the overuse, underuse, and misuse of beneficial care. Adopting health IT is the one strategy healthcare organizations can take to enter a golden age of patient care.
Ellen Derrico, global director market development – Life Sciences & Healthcare, Qlik
The value of health IT is unlocked when practitioners can make discoveries in their data, apply those discoveries, and change the way they deliver patient care to yield more positive outcomes. A great example of this comes from one of our UK healthcare customers. They began using data discovery business intelligence with their IT system data and immediately discovered they were missing their 18 week referral to treatment metric, had gaps in supplies, had inefficiencies in their operating room utilization and the patient flow process, and had variances in their physician performance and technique. They were able to see these areas for improvement through visualizing their data and being able to clarify patterns, outliers, and similar data sets to make these discoveries and identify where they had opportunities for improvement. Armed with this insight, they were able to improve the referral to treatment time and drop it below 14 weeks, fill in the supply gaps, improve operating room utilization and physician performance, and reduce the gaps in patient flow. As a result they were able to reduce the mortality rate significantly and save an additional 158 lives.
Sarah Armstrong, engagement manager, ARRYVE
Health IT, if implemented well, has intrinsic quantitative value that can lead to cost savings, reduction in cycle time and a whole host of business metrics. For its true value to be realized, however, IT capabilities should encompass patient perspectives that deliver qualitative results. Health IT done right will provide “one version of the truth,” unlocking opportunity for more seamless experiences by connecting historically disparate records – such as test results and consultations – to better diagnose and begin treatment. The technology needs to be an enabler of quality care, not simply quality technology.
Arron Fu, vice president of software development, UniPrint
Health IT enables healthcare professionals to access information whenever and wherever they want. Instead of having information on paper that is locked away in a doctor’s office and gets outdated by the day, information is shared online in real time for healthcare workers, which makes it easier to find the information needed. Before information is made available, security becomes a major issue. Access to information needs to be delivered securely and it would be very beneficial for health IT to also track when, where and how information is being used. The bottom line with the value of health IT is electronic health records allow healthcare workers to access, share and collaborate the patient information any time, using any device, anywhere. Now the IT platform including printing have to be secure, audit trail-able, scalable and accessible at all times.
Robin Shannon, RN, MN, MBA, director of performance solutions, T-System Inc.
Healthcare IT currently provides value in a variety of different ways, such as streamlining processes, improving reimbursement and supporting business functions to name a few. However, the real value of health IT will be realized when we are able to provide clinicians with meaningful, evidence-based data at the bedside to improve patient care and outcomes. There are already some exciting technologies out there in the areas of care transitions and population management that bridge care settings to support better patient care. My hope is to see this trend grow, so we can meet the ultimate goal of healthcare IT: a data-centric, connected healthcare environment designed to improve patient outcomes.
Ryan Smith, senior vice president of information technology and chief information officer, Banner Health
Health IT provides a number of value propositions. First and foremost, these systems are able to assist physicians and other clinicians with real-time alerts and prompts specific to the patient being treated. Evidence-based best practice protocols and decision support tools help in saving lives and ensuring the most appropriate care is provided. In addition, health IT is essential in providing decision support tools to caregivers and patients for shared decision making. Treatment options for the patient can be quickly compared to others with the same condition within a similar cohort based on actual clinical outcomes and cost. Health IT is also enhancing patient engagement by providing patients with direct access to their electronic medical records, personalized reports, health and wellness information, and personalized decision support tools. Finally, health IT is required to facilitate the move from a fee-for-service payment model to reimbursement based on quality outcomes and value. Rich data sets and tools are vital to providing effective population health management. These several examples highlight just a few but very important ways where health IT is already providing significant value.
Bill Fera, M.D., healthcare provider leader, Ernst & Young
Health IT is a powerful tool that is revolutionizing health care delivery. It helps providers communicate with patients in new ways, effectively manage patient populations, better leverage resources, and obtain more real-time patient information, allowing them to treat patients, the right way, at the right time. In short, health IT is making care a more patient-centered, better coordinated and more cost-effective experience. To achieve all of these worthwhile goals, clinical technologies should be implemented as part of a broad, cohesive strategy. To maximize success, the proper technology infrastructure must be in place for clinician and business owners to clearly define their needs, establish a way to measure and monitor outcomes, and be prepared to manage growth. If done thoughtfully, providers will have the opportunity to engage with patients more effectively, and partner with payers in new collaborative care arrangements.
Andrew Smith, president, Impact Advisors
The value of health IT is to empower clinicians to practice safe and effective medicine, to enable repeatable, evidence-based, patient-specific care where appropriate and to foster innovation by transforming data into knowledge. Health IT gives us the information – and tools — to effectively manage the “business” of healthcare and facilitates streamlined processes. Health IT is the catalyst to transforming the industry.
Tre Zimmerman, CTO and founder, CareVia
As the healthcare landscape shifts from service to value-based care, the ways in which healthcare is delivered must change. Health IT will play an increasingly important role in this transformation: Rather than simply storing patient information, modern Health IT will increase the frequency and quality of information exchanges. In having better access to pertinent and timely patient data, care providers will be able to make better informed decisions. This increased connectivity and collaboration is going to fuel the overarching goals of value-based care: lowering costs while improving patient satisfaction and outcomes.
To see how others have responded in the past, visit http://electronichealthreporter.com/what-is-the-value-of-hit/