Article: “Improving Health Care: Why a Dose of IT May Be Just What the Doctor Ordered”

HealthitThis is a short paper produced by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation about the state of health care, health care information technology, and recommendations for the future.

I have been following a growing movement to prioritize health information technology before health information exchange (“HIT before HIE” – see my link cloud here). This paper adds to the conversation by making a bold statement:

The strategy of build the network from the bottom up by establishing many regional health information organizations (RHIOs) throughout the country is not working.

The overall tone of the article is not negative, though, which is what I liked about it (as any glass 3/4 full person should). Beyond the statement, there’s a nice summary of HIT efforts to date including the postulated improvements in access, quality, and cost. There’s a discussion of what leading edge organizations are doing, such as Kaiser Permanente, along with information about smaller practices, which I thought was well balanced. Finally, a discussion of the possibilities offered by health record banks is included. These provide a different strategy, one which I have been interested in for some time. Given that we now have organizations that are regularly sending aggregate data from their EHR systems to public health departments to improve disease surveillance, there may be a model for consumers to direct their data to the trusted bank of their choice.

I think this is a balanced read that’s pretty informative. I think the fact that it’s written from outside the health care industry makes it more useful to experienced and novice informaticists.

Ted Eytan, MD