Lieber: Main­tain IT mo­men­tum

Health­care IT needs con­tin­ued sup­port to make a truly con­nected sys­tem

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page - H. Stephen Lieber is pres­i­dent and CEO of the Health­care In­for­ma­tion and Man­age­ment Sys­tems So­ci­ety.

For the past year, much of the fo­cus in the health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy world has been on the Amer­i­can Re­cov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act of 2009, and the re­sult­ing reg­u­la­tions is­sued in De­cem­ber 2009. We should take a mo­ment dur­ing this im­ple­men­ta­tion phase to re­flect on how we got here.

This pub­lic-pri­vate col­lab­o­ra­tion ac­tu­ally be­gan in 2001, when then-Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush started the nation down this path. In that ad­min­is­tra­tion, through the lead­er­ship of two HHS sec­re­taries, Tommy Thompson and Michael Leav­itt, there was a pow­er­ful cat­a­lyst of fed­eral sup­port for the pri­vate sec­tor to ad­vance out­comes us­ing health IT.

Now, the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama share this vi­sion, one that of­fers im­proved pa­tient care with health IT and man­age­ment sys­tems as one tool that can up­date and in­te­grate care de­liv­ery. This ad­min­is­tra­tion has pro­vided the fund­ing, and as cur­rent HHS Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Se­be­lius has noted, “the most promis­ing sign for the fu­ture of our health­care sys­tem is not what stake­hold­ers were say­ing, but what they’re al­ready do­ing.”

The Health­care In­for­ma­tion and Man­age­ment Sys­tems So­ci­ety also be­lieves in this vi­sion, and as a cause-based or­ga­ni­za­tion, has long sup­ported fed­eral fund­ing for wide­spread adop­tion and ap­pro­pri­ate use of health IT. With the lead­er­ship and ex­per­tise of our mem­bers, HIMSS of­fers read­ily avail­able tools and re­sources to stake­hold­ers need­ing to achieve mean­ing­ful-use sta­tus and earn their in­cen­tives. This dis­tinct col­lec­tion of ed­u­ca­tional of­fer­ings in­cludes mean­ing­ful-use ses­sions at con­fer­ences held vir­tu­ally and in-per­son to on­line ed­u­ca­tional of­fer­ings, plus the HIMSS Mean­ing­ful Use OneSource com- pendium of more than 400 on­line re­sources.

With the stim­u­lus act in­cen­tives in place, the once-slow adop­tion rate of health IT has tran­si­tioned to a quick­ened pace of in­ter­est in and adop­tion of this tech­nol­ogy. In fact, ac­cord­ing to sur­vey data re­leased in Jan­uary by the Of­fice of the Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor for Health In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, “four-fifths of the nation’s hos­pi­tals, and 41% of of­fice-based physi­cians, cur­rently in­tend to take ad­van­tage of fed­eral in­cen­tive pay­ments for adop­tion and mean­ing­ful use of cer­ti­fied elec­tronic health records tech­nol­ogy.”

HIMSS An­a­lyt­ics now has 20 ques­tions on mean­ing­ful use in­cluded in its an­nual sur­vey of more than 5,000 U.S., non-gov­ern­men­tal hos­pi­tals. Of the 999 hos­pi­tals that re­sponded to the sur­vey, 25% can meet 10 or more of the process core mea­sures in mean­ing­ful use and meet at least five of the menu items.

Thus, as hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal prac­tices con­sider their health IT op­tions, many have al­ready im­ple­mented—or be­gun to im­ple­ment—this tech­nol­ogy. Now, I be­lieve, this col­lab­o­ra­tive junc­ture is truly at a strate­gic fork in the health IT im­ple­men­ta­tion road where pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors must stay com­mit­ted to this process that is bring­ing the ben­e­fits of dig­i­tal health in­for­ma­tion to pa­tient care.

This evo­lu­tion has led us to the cross­roads of change. Care­givers can ac­cess in­for­ma­tion when and where they need it with the EHR. Se­cure pa­tient por­tals en­able pa­tients to take part in, and take more con­trol of, their health­care. And as a re­sult, rather than op­er­ate in si­los, clin­i­cians can in­ter­act with one an­other and use health IT to ac­cess data, or­der—or not or­der—tests, and thus, treat the pa­tient based on in­ter­pre­ta­tion of rel­e­vant and cur­rent med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion.

As this jour­ney con­tin­ues, our dis­cus­sion in 2011 will seem an­ti­quated in the decades ahead. For ex­am­ple, in 1961 when HIMSS was founded, lead­ers fo­cused on bring­ing com­put­ers into the main­stream and into health­care. The lan­d­line tele­phone was one of the most so­phis­ti­cated pieces of equip­ment avail­able for ex­chang­ing in­for­ma­tion then. Now, ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion is 24/7 on de­vices that even make a lap­top seem a bit out of date.

For 50 years, HIMSS has ad­vo­cated for im­prov­ing pa­tient care through the best use of health IT and man­age­ment sys­tems. At the 2011 An­nual HIMSS Con­fer­ence & Ex­hi­bi­tion in Or­lando this week, we cel­e­brate not only the golden an­niver­sary of HIMSS, but also the suc­cess of a col­lab­o­ra­tive jour­ney that is tak­ing the Amer­i­can health­care sys­tem to­ward a smarter, bet­ter in­formed pa­tient-care fu­ture.

You can visit himss­con­fer­ence.org for more in­for­ma­tion on the con­fer­ence.

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