This week is the Sixth Annual National Health IT Week. Much has happened in the past six years including:

  • Health care reform legislation.
  • Health IT reform through ARRA and HITECH.
  • The Strengthening of HIPAA.
  • A Fortified ONC.
  • New health IT professionals entering the workforce.
  • New applications, new devices, new opportunities and challenges.
 
And the list goes on…
 
In looking back at the last six years, it can best be summarized by using the letter "I" to gain four different perspectives.
 
Information Technology. You cannot really discuss National Health IT Week without including “Information Technology” as one of the key points. Information technology has changed significantly over the last six years. New application vendors have emerged, EHR adoption has accelerated and patient workflows are being enabled and streamlined to match other industries.
 
Technology has always been present in health care, but IT now has taken a much more centered and critical role in pulling our health care system together for quality, efficiency and effectiveness.
 
Innovation. There have been many innovations during the last six years. The iPad alone has driven new applications as well as new ways of gathering and reviewing patient data. There have been innovations in radiology, with new ways to look at the human body and mind and new ways to store and retrieve patient images. There has been innovation in physician practices in the way patient interaction is taking place with an EHR in the middle.
 
In my opinion, innovation is really just getting warmed up in health care. There is so much ahead to do, especially around the patient. Saying “it is an exciting time to be in health care” is an understatement.
 
Interoperability. Healthcare interoperability has come out of the closet and is getting the attention it deserves. Patient data in a silo has a limited use and can impact patient care in unfortunate ways. Patient data that can flow seamlessly through various applications increases in value as it moves. Most importantly, to the various caregivers a person sees, connected patient data enhances the diagnosis and treatment that may be needed.
 
It is more than healthcare integration today, which has been more focused on integrated applications within the four walls of an organization. Data is beginning to be exchanged outside the four walls as patients move between different providers, counties and states.
 
Healthcare interoperability has taken hold over the last six years and is ready to really blossom in the next six years.
 
i-Patient. This is the biggest one – it is about us, the citizen-patient or the iPatient. With the changes that have happened, patients have the opportunity to take ahold of their data and of their personal health, just as they have with their financial data. There is more work that needs to be done to make this a reality, yet the IT kernels have been planted. The groundwork is being laid for patients, maybe, to take a more active role in tending to their health and participating in the decisions that affect the direction of their care.
 
The next six years should really be about us, the iPatient. It may take longer than six years, so maybe the next decade will be dubbed the Decade of the iPatient!
 
During this Sixth Annual National Health IT Week, we should look at what has been accomplished and be proud, yet we should know that there is so much more to do.
 
We need to take a deep breath and look around at what has been done, and then get ready for the next six years of continued health IT transformation and innovation!
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