Health IT

Could health information technology be the root of reform? — MedCity Morning Read, June 11, 2009

Dr. Joseph Kim, who writes the Medicine and Technology blog (among others), summed up his experiences of attending a virtual conference of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society this week with one question: Is Health IT the root of health care reform?

Dr. Joseph Kim, who writes the Medicine and Technology blog (among others), sums up his experiences of attending a virtual conference of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society this week by asking many questions.

Kim’s summary question is: Is Health IT the root of health care reform?

President Barack Obama intends to establish a reserve fund of more than $630 billion to pay for health care reform over 10 years. Will health IT revolutionize health care? Kim asks. Will it reduce health care costs?

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Here are some facts from the virtual conference to consider, Kim says:

  • By 2016, we will be spending over $4 trillion a year on health care.
  • More than 40 percent of Americans suffer from chronic diseases, such as diabetes.

Obama is setting aside $20 billion of economic stimulus money for health IT, Kim says. Here are some pieces of the pie:

Incentives for “meaningful use” of health information technology will largely be provided by Medicare and Medicaid, the national health programs for the elderly, disabled and poor.

One of the criteria for  meaningful use of health IT is certification, Kim says. In order for an electronic health record — the basic unit for a lot of the discussion on  health care IT — to be certified, according to the guidelines of the federal recovery and reinvestment act, it must:

  • Provide clinical decision support
  • Support computerized physician order entry
  • Capture and query information relevant to health care quality
  • Exchange and integrate e-health information with other sources

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[Image courtesy of Flickr user Southerntabitha]

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