10 Ways Health IT is Transforming Health Care in America
Celebrating National Health IT Week by Recognizing the Importance of Health IT
It’s National Health IT Week, and we’re enjoying a whole week dedicated to topics that health IT geeks like us get excited about. In keeping with the goal of National Health IT Week, to raise national awareness of the importance of health IT, we’d like to share our thoughts on how health IT is helping reshape the U.S. health care delivery system.
Health IT is foundational to health care reform. Technology plays a crucial role in all of the recent health reform initiatives, including Meaningful Use, the Physician Quality Reporting System, the Affordable Care Act, and more. Below are 10 ways health IT has the potential to transform—and is already making an impact on—health care in the U.S.
Health IT has the potential to:
- Lower healthcare costs. Because health IT has the power to automate and streamline processes, it helps increase efficiency, eliminating wasted time and enabling physicians to see more patients. Health IT also helps lower costs by promoting prevention and wellness, thereby reducing the costs of treatment in the future. An added benefit to population management for quality health and wellness, providers are able to identify and target patients that are non-adherent to clinical protocols for purposes of outreach; and, remember, those clinical events are billable!
- Improve the quality of health care delivered in the U.S. Clinical decision support tools help physicians make more accurate diagnoses and recommend more effective treatment programs. These tools, coupled with EHR systems, HIE efforts and other innovations help physicians deliver more consistent care and promote adherence to evidence-based guidelines.
- Improve patient engagement and facilitate patient-centric care. Clinical decision support, population management, order sets, patient portals, point-of-care alerts and other health IT tools help providers shift the focus to the patient and empower patients to become active participants in their own care. Research supports that an engaged patient is a satisfied patient, which drives lower patient attrition rates for providers.
- Promote prevention, wellness and healthy behaviors. Protocol compliance tracking tools can identify and alert patients who are overdue for preventive services and tests. For instance, providers can use health IT to track diabetic patients, identify those who have not had a timely A1C and automatically contact those patients via their preferred method of communication. Patient education tools within EHR systems can also help promote wellness and healthy behaviors.
- Improve health outcomes for patients. When patients are more engaged in their own health care and providers have better tools to support treatment decisions and coordinate care, patients are more likely to achieve better outcomes.
- Increase access to timely care. Health information technology can help health care organizations decrease no-shows by automatically reminding patients of appointments. Advanced scheduling tools help front-desk staff fill appointment slots more easily and efficiently. The efficiencies created by health IT also free up clinicians to see more patients, helping alleviate the growing problem of timely access to care.
- Reduce medical errors. Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems are designed to reduce potentially dangerous medication errors, such as harmful drug-drug interactions and medication allergies. Clinical decision support tools can help reduce medical errors by offering evidence-based guidelines for treatment. Provider use of the guidelines will ultimate drive Medicare reimbursement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the application of a value modifier in a positive or negative differential payment amount starting in 2015.
- Improve care coordination across treatment settings. Health information exchange allows providers in disparate care settings to share patient records so that patient information is integrated, organized and available to all providers responsible for that patient’s care. As HIE efforts continue to evolve, they will simplify care and treatment for patients with multiple providers, and streamline processes for patients who transition between care venues.
- Improve clinical research through better data. EHR systems promote structured data capture and enable electronic clinical quality reporting, contributing to better quality data for clinical research.
- Address disparities in care. Collecting and analyzing the structured data captured by certified EHR technology is critical to improving the quality of care for minorities and low-income patients. Innovations in telehealth technologies are also addressing health disparities by enabling rural patients that lack access to primary care providers and/or specialists to connect with the care they need.
These potential benefits of health IT, among many others, are our motivation for working hard to deliver high-quality, innovative health IT solutions to our clients. We’re also working hard to keep our clients informed on health reform initiatives and changing regulations so that they can successfully navigate the shift as the U.S. health care delivery system evolves. For more information on health reform and the role of technology in health reform initiatives, download a free white paper.