NHIT Week: Raising Awareness to Improve Quality and Efficiency of Healthcare

For the ninth year, national health IT week is in full swing, from Sept. 15 – 19, 2014. Those in healthcare, policy makers and stakeholders have come together to “collaborative forum for public and private healthcare constituents to discuss the value of health information technology (IT) for the U.S. healthcare system.”

HIMSS is again hosting a lineup of events and activities centered in the DC. According to the organization, the event is designed as health IT continues its advancement to “improve the quality of healthcare delivery, increase patient safety, decrease medical errors, and strengthen the interaction between patients and healthcare providers.”

For those of us in health IT, NHIT Week is a forum, a conversation starter and an awareness builder that assembles healthcare constituents dedicated to working together to elevate the necessity of advancing health through the best use of information technology. As a brand awareness campaign, the effort is paying off and bringing about deeper conversations with health IT game changers, leaders and those who wish to learn more about the ramifications of the technology on the overall landscape.

That said, and because of the importance of the event, I asked a few folks for their reaction to NHIT Week. Their responses follow:

Arvind Subramanian, president and CEO, Wolters Kluwer Health, Clinical Solutions

Arvind Subramanian
Arvind Subramanian

Vision, innovation, hard work and perseverance are foundational to any significant change for the better. These are fundamental components of the health IT movement—an ever-evolving landscape that has experienced tremendous successes, along with its share of challenges.

National Health IT Week offers a platform for celebrating progress and expanding awareness of the tremendous potential of health IT to advance healthcare’s broader goals of improved outcomes and lower costs. It’s an opportunity for those deeply involved in the movement and those watching it unfold from a distance to come together and remember what forms the core of its agenda: improving the human experience and saving lives.

Here at Wolters Kluwer Health, we have the advantage of seeing the outcomes associated with advances in clinical content integration, clinical knowledge management and data analytics every day. Whether it’s a highly effective response to a public health crisis or the ability to mitigate adverse outcomes through real-time patient surveillance, our clients are experiencing a transformation to more highly-effective care delivery.

National Health IT Week is important to sustain forward momentum, and the industry should leverage the opportunity to make its successes known.

David Harlow
David Harlow

David Harlow, Principal, The Harlow Group LLC, Healthcare Law and Consulting

Government and industry are certainly interested in celebrating the gains made thus far as a result of the federal commitment to spend $39 billion on Health IT incentives, but there is a long way yet to go. One of the key promises of the program – interoperability – has not yet been fully realized, and many certified EHR solutions continue to get low marks from front-line clinicians on usability. Most EHRs were originally built to maximize reimbursement in a fee for service environment. As we are asking these “legacy” systems to do other things — like improve individual and population health while lowering costs — and as the reimbursement landscape changes around them, these systems need to evolve. I won’t hold my breath, but it would be great to see a commitment from government and industry as part of Health IT Week to improve usability and interoperability as part of, or at the same time as implementation of, Stage 3 of meaningful use so that we have the opportunity to realize the benefits promised by health IT, and by the billions of dollars diverted from other uses to support its implementation thus far, including realistic options for long-term financing of health information exchange.

Amit Trivedi
Amit Trivedi

Amit Trivedi, healthcare program manager, ICSA Labs

National Health IT Week helps raise awareness on how HIT is improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare in our nation. It is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and milestones around a variety of efforts. It is also a chance to evaluate where we are as an industry and while we have taken considerable leaps forward, we still have a long way to go.

We are only halfway through the meaningful use stages, which is building a foundation around health information exchange and quality measurement. We have seen the proliferation of different types of apps and the promise of mobility, yet face uncertainty as to how these devices and applications will be regulated. As we open systems to promote interoperable data exchange, we will also continue to face challenges safeguarding privacy and security.

The conversation is shifting away from EHR adoption and toward health IT optimization to ensure that we are getting the most out of the technologies that have  deployed. This is the ninth year of National Health IT Week and it serves to remind us that healthcare transformation is not a sprint, but a marathon.

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