Archive for February, 2011

The expectation of a reformed healthcare system driven by new technology is firmly established.  The recently released IT Industry Business Confidence Index cites advances in healthcare as a key force behind the industry’s optimism.

The foundation for realizing IT based reform is the adoption of EHR’s. The CMS has an incentive program in place motivating care-givers to adopt certified EHR technologies.  The CMS is by far the nations’ largest payer, distributing approximately $800 billion in benefits.

Dr. David Blumenthal, the outgoing National Coordinator for Health IT, says we have now “officially entered the age of ‘meaningful use”.  As of Feb 8th some 18,000 providers have registered to apply for the incentive program aimed at achieving ‘meaningful use’ status. 1,000’s more are expected to register throughout the year.  Meeting the meaningful use criteria is a significant challenge with some critics claiming the process is too complicated and others finding ambiguity in its directives.

According to the HHS, “meaningful use means providers need to show they’re using certified EHR technology in ways that can be measured significantly in quality and in quantity.”  In stage one (2011 & 2012) this means establishing a baseline for data capture and information sharing. The HHS is reaching out to providers to inform them of the detailed steps.

State of the art healthcare IT, like all technologies capable of bringing about revolutionary change, requires much more than the simple acquisition of a new IT system. Those already committed to the journey, such as CMIO Dr. Joel Berman of Concord Hospital (NH) explains:

“Other essential factors include unwavering senior administrative support, engaged clinical champions, dedicated physician and nurse informaticists, effective change management, familiarity with lean principles and practices, enlistment of patients, and commitment to rapid cycle improvement tools and techniques. Eighty percent of the challenges are about people, processes, psychology, and sociology; only 20 percent are about technology…”

As more and more providers commit to the technology and the process of change that comes with it, IT based healthcare reform gains significant momentum. There is no question that everyone wants the benefits that fully applied healthcare IT can ultimately bring:

  • Improved quality of patient care
  • Superior treatment outcomes
  • Increased efficiencies from enhanced data management
  • Cost reduction throughout the healthcare system
  • Anti-fraud management through advanced analytics

The only question is how rapidly providers will adopt the new healthcare IT and fully commit to achieving meaningful use. The indicators so far in 2011 point to steadily increasing commitments.