For the past decade, information technology has been the promised cure for the ills of our country’s Health care system. Many in the health care industry believe that its widespread use will improve patient safety and overall health care quality, increase efficiency and decrease costs. Unfortunately, a large gap remains between these promises and the actual adoption of health care information technology. The plain truth is that, with the exception of a handful of regional trials, our health care system still runs on paper medical records. These trials, initiated and supported by consortiums of health care institutions and organizations, are focused on building networked health care information systems for clinicians, regional hospitals, labs and other health care organizations.
Object Health believes that, while such networks can deliver higher quality care, technology is only one of a complex set of elements that influence the adoption of information technology. Other elements include regional variations in health care delivery; multiple business environments; payment streams and delivery models; competing standards of care; and diverse patient populations. To realize the benefits of health care information technology, the health care industry must fully acknowledge the complexities created when health care information technology intersects with health care delivery systems.
Based on this reality, Object Health believes that:
- Patient health data should be securely shared among clinicians and health care organizations to provide higher quality health care to individuals and groups.
- The health care industry should focus on privacy policies and standards and public education regarding patient health data security to build public trust.
- Health care information technology should support organizational technology standards and requirements without compromising organizational strategies and goals.
- Technology procurement should start with a thorough analysis of national standards advancements and industry direction so that purchase decisions are thoroughly informed and aligned.
- Information technology adoption decisions should address technology’s impact on marketing, operations and finance to ensure broad organizational support.
- Information adoption requires investment in appropriate resources, such as change management, workflow redesign, training, and project management to avoid unnecessary costs and delays.
- The industry should explore creative financing models, such as shared technology applications and services, to lower the cost of entry and decrease the potential for technology “haves” and “have not’s” among clinicians.
We believe these principles provide the right foundation to integrate individual organization goals with regional and national healthcare agendas for healthcare information technology.Their application to healthcare information technology adoption will help society achieve higher quality healthcare.