National Health IT Week 2012 is Sept. 10-14 and HIMSS is hosting a blog "carnival" designed to help them highlight interesting perspectives on the following question: 

How will Health IT make a difference a year from now at the next National Health IT Week?

Health IT is not just one thing. In fact, it's not an exaggeration to say that outside of building maintenance, it includes every department within the healthcare environment: computers, laptops, smart phones, Internet access, automatic doors, websites, phone systems, EHRs, imaging, pagers, etc. You name it, and it probably has something to do with technology.

Here at Corepoint Health, we're surrounded by all things involving health data exchange, both internally and externally to the broader caregiving community, which is why the question posed by HIMSS is so intriguing to us. The ability to create an interoperable healthcare system so the right patient data is available at the point of care is driving the industry, from HITECH and Meaningful Use to the Affordable Care Act and Accountable Care Organizations. 

We are excited about the future of patient care, and we look forward to helping health IT professionals facilitate the modernization of such a vital industry. 

There are many areas of health IT that we believe will take significant strides during the next year, so I asked four Corepoint Health experts opinions on the following topics: healthcare standards, health information exchange (HIE), interoperability projects, and patient engagement.  

Health Information Exchange

"HIE participation continues to grow, especially private HIEs, which will aid ACOs in achieving their goals. In the next year, I think we will see organizations continue to utilize these private HIEs to better handle the transition of patient care. In addition, the Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules have new metrics that will increase requirements on electronic data transfer when patients change care settings. From order results to CCDs, these private HIEs will make patient care more efficient with less mistakes over the next year and for years to come."

— Rob Brull, Corepoint Health Product Manager

Increased Motivation for Interoperability

"Over the next year, I see healthcare providers seeing an increased demand for application integration in the community due to Meaningful Use, more HIEs, or the increased adoption rate of EHR/EMRs. Sharing electronic health/medical data with the need to move it from one organization or application to another results in more integration via interfaces using healthcare standards such as HL7. This demand should force healthcare providers and vendors to seek technology to make interfacing easier and make clinical sense of the large amount electronic clinical data being collected."

— Sonal Patel, Vice President of Client Services 

Emphasis on Patient Engagement

"The primary difference health IT will make in the next year is that more people will be talking about their experiences.The experiences will be in the way an EHR provided health clarity to a physician during a visit. People will utilize more apps to track, monitor, and enhance their personal health. Questions will be asked increasingly by patients on what certain conditions mean and where they can go for additional insight. Healthy experiences and conversations will increase. It will be more than just electronic health; it will be engaged health."

— Jon Mertz, Vice President of Marketing

Awareness of Healthcare Standards

"While providers’ motivation to comply with Meaningful Use is mostly financial, there are many other benefits to be had.  As vendors and providers alike immerse themselves in these HIT standards, interoperability will get easier, and implementations will become shorter.  This will yield a secondary financial benefit.  As more practices move to EMRs, the opportunity to interoperate presents itself in a way that was not possible with paper.  Using HIT standards will enhance and accelerate that interoperability and maximize the benefits."

— Ben Levy, Senior Integration Consultant

I'm looking forward to reading the other responses on the HIMSS Blog. I believe there are many challenges ahead for widespread health IT acceptance, including convincing and showing caregivers that EHRs and coordinated care can make their jobs easier, as well as improve patient care. The inclusion of rural hospitals in HIEs and ACOs is another area that I look forward to learning more about, because patients outside the reach of major health networks stand to benefit the most from coordinated care.  

 

Additional Reading:

Accountable Care Organizations and Radiology: Communication Key to Opening New Doors

Round Table on HIE Connectivity: Real Experiences with Health Information Exchanges

 

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