On Sept. 1, we started the 20 Question for Health IT project, which spanned 20 weekdays and included insights from different contributors on various health IT topics, ranging from the always-popular interoperability to off-the-radar topics such as Bitcoin and even a joint clinician/patient EHR system. After taking a step back to view all 20 questions in one place, I am quite pleased we were able to attract so many different, intelligent perspectives from across the health IT landscape.
I would like to thank the 19 other contributors to this project. Please take a minute to send your thanks by following them all on Twitter — I’m confident they’ll continue to educate and inspire us to tackle the difficult questions needed to improve health IT.
You can view each question in the following presentation – please share it with your colleagues and connections to continue the conversation.
Question from Brian Eastwood, senior editor at CIO Online:
Healthcare is full of individual instances of data analytics “wins” – Hospital X reducing readmissions, Health System Y cutting prescription costs or Practice Z streamlining its bulk buying of tongue depressor. How does healthcare move from easy wins in analytics to more tangible, repeatable results?
It’s hard to find a healthcare conference without a big data track these days. Most of the presentations focus on what a particular institution did, not how it did what it did. There’s certainly a place for such case studies, as they can inspire healthcare leaders to look at existing problems in news ways. In focusing on ‘what’ and not ‘how,’ though, healthcare runs the risk of keeping the expertise that’s needed to pull off a successful data analytics initiative as siloed as the data itself. We can’t talk about healthcare data analytics without getting down and dirty—discussing how to sell it to executives, how to allocate resources, how to disseminate and interpret the results and, critically, how to make analytics an integral part of an institution’s business strategy.
Question from Vince Kuraitis, principal, Better Health Technologies, LLC:
The migration from “Hoarding” to “Sharing” patient health information — necessary, but is it sufficient?
Conventional wisdom suggests that the U.S. health system is going through a lengthy and painful two-phase process of migrating from ‘hoarding’ patient information to ‘sharing’ patient info. While correct, I don’t think this vision goes far enough. I envision a third phase – “applying” patient information.
Let me explain. ‘sharing’ implies simply making information available. It doesn’t necessarily imply that patients or providers actually want or have to do anything with the information. It also implies fairly neutral expectations on the part of the party that shares the information: ‘OK, I’m now sharing information…use it as you see fit.’
As payment models migrate from volume to value, care providers and patients each have more skin in the game: providers increasingly will be at-risk financially, and patients are being subjected to higher co-payments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket payments. This concurrent health system transformation is what triggers Phase 3 of ‘applying’ patient health information. Expectations around patient information shared with providers and patients will increase. ‘I’m sharing information with you. I expect you to act on this information. The patient has a team care plan and we each have a role. Do your part.’
The implications here are huge. If you’re proactive, you can already be building operational and business models anticipating Phase 3. Discuss.
Question from Steven Posnack, Director, Office of Standards and Technology at the ONC:
Is the concept of an “electronic health record” outdated?
The next 7 to 10 years will usher in new technology models in which different kinds of health data services are used by health professionals and consumers to assist with clinical problem solving and “record keeping.” Data makes the difference and its value beyond today’s EHR systems will continue to expand the type of solutions available to providers and the people for which they care. Today’s EHRs are often criticized as having been built with “billable events” as the focal point. The individual will be the focal point of tomorrow’s system and we’ll see data services continue to develop with this in mind.
How can we help propel the Blue Button movement forward?
I didn’t have the opportunity to hear firsthand about all the great Blue Button ideas and resources unveiled at the recent Consumer Health IT Summit, but I did get a chance to hear from ONC reps on this very issue at HIMSS 14 (seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?). There, they equated Blue Button to the Energy Star logo we now take for granted on our appliances and electronics. I am confident they’re on the right track, as I believe the answer lies in the marketing power of providers and vendors, and the purchasing power of the consumer.
As a consumer, I equate Energy Star products with energy efficiency and savings to my family’s bottom line. Wouldn’t it be great if Blue Button reached the point where consumers see it and think “easy data sharing with my docs,” “no more unnecessary, expensive tests,” and/or “phew, gathering all that data before my next appointment was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I didn’t have to take a day off work to get that done”?
That’s not going to happen until vendors and providers mutually agree to bake the Blue Button functionality and logo into their products, PHRs, portals and waiting rooms. I believe the “tipping point” as we love to say, will be when we start seeing the Blue Button logo on our favorite mobile health apps (maybe even those developed with Apple’s HealthKit?), and we can measurably point to increased downloads as a result. Consumers – and their pocketbooks – have the power to make this happen. We just have to make them aware of it.