“What is the Value of Health IT?”

For its second year of celebrating National Health IT Week, HIMSS is asking a simple question: “What is the value of HIT?”

Seems like a simple question, but there don’t seem to be any simple answers. The fact is there seems to be a different answer depending on who you ask. So, instead of offering my lone — and probably less than expert – opinion I’ve asked a variety of folks who are probably better able to give more insightful and valuable opinions than mine.

Brian Wells
Brian Wells

Brian Wells, associate vice president of healthcare technology and academic computing, Penn Medicine – UPHS “The value of Health IT is centered on the liberation of information. The act of capturing health data in electronic form allows that data to be used for multiple purposes: patient care, quality improvement, cost optimization, research, education, etc. The value increases exponentially if the data is stored and shared using structural and semantic standards.  This enables data from multiple sources to be aggregated while retaining its original meaning (value).  The promise of personalized or precision medicine will only be realized if health IT is used to gather the rich phenotypes of all patients and link that to their genotypes.”

Mark Frisse, M.D., professor of biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University “Health IT enables patients and their clinicians to make more informed decisions by bringing to care settings a comprehensive view of the patient’s health status as well as evidence-based care guidelines to inform consensual decision-making. Health IT promises more efficient and effective care delivery, accurate reporting of care quality, and timely assessments of public health. Health IT can enforce patient privacy preferences and other policy requirements. Properly implemented within a system of care, these technologies enable better communication and may allow clinicians and patients to transform care in positive and sometimes dramatic ways.”

Mobile Apps Help Caregivers, Hospitals Build Strong Patient Relationships
Alex Bratton

Alex Bratton, CEO, Lextech “Today, our personal healthcare information is locked away in the doctor’s office. You have to jump through hoops to gain access to your own medical history. Technology, particularly mobile apps, will empower patients to take control of their own healthcare by giving them access to both health records and billing information. Instead of just saying, ‘yes’ to a procedure because a doctor suggests it, you’ll see different options, both financial and care related, make educated decisions about how to proceed and knowing how it will impact both your health and your bank account.”

Clare Coda, medical student, Drexel University “Being able to use tablets and smartphones, puts medical students at a huge advantage. I can look up clinical information wherever and whenever I need it through different applications and reference tools. For example, if I am working with a doctor who prescribes a brand drug that I am unfamiliar with, mobile apps allow me to search for the name of the drug and learn all about it. And in the future I’ll be able to use these mobile health tools, which get better and better every year, to help me deliver the best care to my patients.”

Dan Rodrigues, CEO, Kareo “A recent report from Black Book Rankings highlighted the benefit of leveraging integrated practice management, billing and EHR software in the small practice setting. A seamless approach to clinical, financial and administrative requirements is essential to ensuring practice survival and enabling independence from hospital or large group acquisition. We see firsthand that physicians are frustrated that the business side of their practices too often gets in the way of delivering patient care. With a new approach to health IT, the small practice physician can restore the patient as their central focus and get back to the business of being a doctor – a scenario that benefits everyone.”

C. Anthony Jones, M.D., chief marketing officer, Philips Healthcare “In healthcare, we tend to see technology as a tool, rather than the enabler of the big picture. The successful hospital of the future will be defined more by its virtual, rather than physical presence – with multiple interoperable technologies communicating seamlessly with one another. Health IT will be what enables this transformation, allowing healthcare organizations to effectively coordinate high quality care in this new and virtual world, and becoming one of our most valuable assets in helping hospitals and health systems achieve the goal of driving down the cost of care while improving care quality and efficiency.”

Amit Trivedi, program manager, healthcare, ICSA Labs “Information systems have revolutionized every industry and the healthcare industry is no exception. Electronic health information will improve accessibility of data and preserve the integrity of patient data – improving care coordination and patient safety. Advanced health IT systems give the healthcare industry an opportunity to act on data – through clinical decision support systems, population health surveillance, analysis of treatments and quality reporting. Implementing secure, interoperable health IT systems will enable the industry to collect, quantify and measure all kinds of healthcare-related information. This will help the industry better understand where to look for further improvements and determine whether changes being made are having desired effects.”

David Whitehouse
David Whitehouse

Dr. David Whitehouse, chief medical officer, UST Global “Health IT must first curate data to promote well-being necessary to maximize potential for populations and individuals. Improving data access ensures that decision makers are better informed about the state of health. Awareness—facts incorporating emotional/moral perceptions— is the prerequisite to turn information into wisdom. Second, health IT must help analyze, interpret and correlate data in ways which continually enhance learning and accelerate creative insights. These factors combine to create better outcomes. Value will be stake-holder dependent: improved cost, achieving efficacy/efficiency, and satisfaction. Innovative insights depend on integration of data flows.”

Titus K. Schleyer, DMD, PhD, MBA, director, Center for Biomedical Informatics, Regenstrief Institute, Inc. “This is the wrong question, like asking ‘What is the value of water?’ Like water is essential to life, health IT (HIT) is essential to healthcare. A better question: ‘How can we maximize the value of HIT at the individual, local and national level?’ Compared to what it could provide, HIT, as commonly implemented, is still in the Stone Age.”

Jim Hansen
Jim Hansen

Jim Hansen, vice president, health policy, Lumeris “As healthcare delivery models shift to value and become more market based, health IT must also transition to become more accountable. The underlying value of health IT is to optimize people and processes. New business and care delivery models are necessitating a new transformative role for heath IT — one that turns data and information into knowledge so that better decisions can be made at the point of care. To succeed in value-based care, incentives and technology will be needed to support behavior change and accomplish the Triple Aim Plus One: better quality, lower costs and improved patient plus physician satisfaction.”

Karen Burton, business development manager, Logicalis US “Health IT is the engine that will transform and power the next generation of healthcare – the values come from cost efficiencies, evidence-based medicine, quality of care, reduced re-admissions, better diagnoses and targeted treatments based on individual genomics. With HIT, the US will no longer be the country with the highest per capita spending on healthcare, while ranking low among industrial nations in quality of care.”

David B. Troxel, M.D., medical director, The Doctors Company “Ultimately the electronic health record (EHR) will improve the efficiency of medical practice, reduce adverse patient outcomes (already achieved with e-prescribing), and facilitate assessment of the quality of care provided to defined patient populations. However, EHRs must first: become interoperable with each other and with hospital HIT systems (and cease being information silos); redesign their structured progress notes to simulate the narrative documentation of the written medical record and eliminate irrelevant over-documentation, which may obscure new, clinically significant information; and design drug-drug interaction lists with fewer, but clinically significant, interactions to eliminate ‘alert fatigue.’”

Allen Kriete, vice president of Healthcare Services, TEKsystems “The value of health IT is that it increases the likelihood of better health/patient outcomes, while reducing operational and healthcare costs. Health IT strives to make advances in four key areas: visibility, connectivity, information and collaboration at the patient level. And, it’s getting there; however, one of the greatest challenges for organizations is having access to HIT talent that can effectively bring all of these elements together.”

Richard Cramer
Richard Cramer

Richard Cramer, chief healthcare strategist at Informatica “Health IT will be the driving force of health care innovation in the next decade – moving beyond simply automating and enhancing the efficiency of administrative processes to the forefront of care delivery and enabling the learning health care organization. Through health IT, we will have clear evidence of what works and doesn’t work, driving out unwarranted variation in care while introducing intentional variation tailored to the individual’s genomic profile. We will see unprecedented enhancements in patient safety, clinical quality and value touch every aspect of care, engaging providers and patients across the continuum to ensure consistent, high-value care.”

Hopefully, these comments provide some perspective to the question HIMSS asks, what those in health IT are truly thinking. I’d be surprised if we were not saying the same things this time next year.   

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