Healthcare IT Has Come A Long Way

Two speakers at the recent Allscripts Client Experience (ACE) conference in Las Vegas highlighted the changes in healthcare IT since 2009. Kathleen Sebelius was US Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2009 to 2014, and Dr. Vindell Washington is the current National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Ms. Sebelius began her address by reminding us that historically on a per capita basis the US far outspends other developed countries for healthcare but often gets worse results. According to her, the primary goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were affordable health insurance, delivery system reform, and lower costs through greater efficiencies. To achieve these objectives, the nation needed a more robust health IT platform to drive protocols and payments. Even before ACA, the government was paying over 60% of all healthcare costs. Moving forward, in her view, the government needs to shift from a passive payer to an active purchaser of healthcare, and data analytics are “the name of the game.”

The perspective on the future and the emphasis on “data an analytics” are a resounding and welcome validation of some of the newest research and development avenues at Callibra Inc and its product line Discharge 1-2-3 Composer. Significant projects utilizing customer data and analytics for product improvement have been front and center in the landscape of product direction.

Ms Sebelius concluded by saying that healthcare had been disrupted and had become a totally new market. In her view, calls to repeal Obamacare are moot because there is no longer anything to go back to.

Dr. Washington, an emergency physician, began by citing how quickly the healthcare IT landscape has changed. In 2008, only 13.4% of non-Federal acute care hospitals had adopted basic EHR; by 2015 the adoption rate had increased to 88.3%. He stated that his passion is for all people to have equal access to quality healthcare. His belief is that IT positively affects healthcare, and that interoperability in particular is foundational to meeting his department’s national healthcare priorities, which include precision medicine, delivery system reform, the “Cancer Moonshot,” the opioid crisis, public health, and research and innovation

Although the vast majority of his speech was devoted to the progress healthcare IT has made recently, he said he is often reminded of the challenges that remain. In his opinion, the healthcare IT industry is not as responsive or fast-moving as it needs to be. When he was an intern starting out in medicine, he said that it took 17 years for information from research databases to be incorporated into EMRs. He was chagrined to hear recently that it was still taking nearly that long.

It is sometimes helpful for those of us in the healthcare trenches to get the view from 50,000-foot level.

Hugh Martin
Discharge 1-2-3

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