In my past two posts, I discussed why health information technology's (HIT's) potential is not being realized, and why it has thus far failed to deliver strong return on investment. I now focus on describing what has to be done to change things around in 2009 and beyond.
Making the most out of HIT is a key component of any effective healthcare reform strategy. HIT's potential to reduce costs and improving quality can be achieved if we:
Increasing Benefits and Incentives to Providers
Increasing financial benefits to providers would involve monetary incentives and additional income generation to those who use HIT. Such economic models may include:
No matter how it's done, providers who use HIT should gain financially, especially if they demonstrate the ability to control costs and render high quality care. This requires substantial reform in our current healthcare system, and there is reason to believe the new administration will support expanded HIT use [ Reference ].
Dealing with Standards through Innovation
HIT systems should be flexible enough to adapt to evolving standards quickly and easily. Unfortunately, this is not the case as evidenced by the debate over changing to ICD-10 diagnostic codes [ Reference ]. With most HIT systems in use today, accommodating new data standard is a very costly process. In fact, even more detailed standards are being offered, such as the ABC codes, which supports a more precise and comprehensive documentation of patient encounters and a common language for comparing approaches to care [ Reference ].
In addition, when it comes to technology standards, we ought not reject new creative approaches with the potential to lower costs and speed information exchange. One such innovative model, offered by National Health Data Systems, is to use a node-to-node architecture with universal translation, which manages information transfer between computers in an asynchronous manner via a publisher-subscriber process . The benefits of this method include its ability to:
Following a Comprehensive HIT Blueprint
In addition to offering provider incentives and dealing more effectively and creatively with standards, realizing HIT's potential requires that we see the big picture and follow a comprehensive blueprint. This all-encompassing model should define how a wide range of HIT tools work together (interoperate) in order to promote safe, effective, affordable sick-care, well-care, and public protection by:
Accomplishing this requires low cost, flexible, efficient, interoperable software systems that can accommodate any current and future data and operational standards, support decisions, build profound knowledge [ Reference ], and protect populations. In addition, they must be highly-secure, economical, easy-to-use, and always available. The HIT blueprint should, therefore, describe how a wide range of software systems would work conjointly to help:
In addition, the blueprint should focus on the use of computerized decision support (CDS) tools, which offer guidance based on evidence-based guidelines. To be truly useful, the CDS software systems should:
The HIT blueprint should also include new, innovative technologies, such as:
Unless our healthcare system adopts a comprehensive HIT blueprint that embraces creative innovation (similar the one outlined above), we will continue to build and deploy software systems that:
HIT holds great promise; without it, meaningful healthcare is not possible and the value (cost-effectiveness) of care cannot improve significantly. Realizing HIT's potential, however, is no easy task. Nevertheless, it is achievable and a much brighter future awaits us all by beginning to:
 For full disclosure, the following link includes a discussion of a patented technology I invented, which is being offered by my company -- http://cpsplit.typepad.com/
 For full disclosure, the following link includes a discussion of a proprietary technology I developed, which is being offered by my company -- http://curinghealthcare.blogspot.com/2008/04/personal-health-profiler-part-1.htm
 For full disclosure, the following link discusses of a patent-pending technology I developed, which is being offered by my company -- http://www.nhds.com/coms_agent911.html
 For full disclosure, the following link discusses a patent-pending technology from my company and a partner -- http://www.nhds.com/coms_agent911.html