Are we building the foundation for a Health IT Tower of Babel?

We have seen much attention paid to the adoption of electronic health records (EHR). Paying for EHR is notable as one aspect of healthcare reform that already has won funding thanks to billions set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Some stimulus makes sense given the low adoption of EHRs by providers nationwide and the inefficiencies of a paper-based system.

But one aspect of EHR adoption has been largely overlooked. A new healthcare reform briefing paper by Rich Moyer and Paul Leonardo examines how population-level analysis is key to unlocking the potential of electronic health records. Community data pooling allows analysis that makes healthcare quality more apparent and can help measure and improve the system on a regional basis. These information exchanges are currently operational in at least five states and are already yielding results (while hopefully preventing the formation of new information silos in the move toward EHR).

3 thoughts on “Are we building the foundation for a Health IT Tower of Babel?

  1. I certainly agree with your position. There are tremendous benefits associated with IT and electronic systems. However, if health care organizations lack strategic focus and insight – realized benefits from IT and electronic systems will remain limited and mediocre. Primary issues are poor adoption rates and cultural resistance to change. These issues are best addressed at the board level. Your belief regarding leveraging systems to improve community or regional health is a strategic issue. Therefore boards of directors or those responsible for governance must step-up and provide strategic direction and resources to realize significant benefits from IT and electronic systems – these benefits would include improved community and regional health performance by leveraging common data.

  2. I cannot agree more with Dr. Nixon, adoption and use is critical and the resistance to change is a significant barrier to over come. Take for example the adoption of ePrescribing, not well adopted and limited by not being able to prescribe controlled medications. This limits the technologies adoption and effectiveness.

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