On June 19th, I was honored to represent the ImproveCareNow network and other learning networks at a White House meeting on how Health Information Technology (health IT or HIT) can improve health outcomes.

Present were about 75 leaders from institutions and practices that have advanced the use of health IT to improve care and outcomes.  In his opening remarks, Farzad Mostashari, MD, Director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health (ONC) IT made a number of important points:

    • The number of offices using electronic medical records (EMRs) has doubled and about half (2,400) hospitals in the US now have EMRs


    • Increasing the use of health IT faces many challenges: workforce training, data sharing, privacy and security.  The opportunity is to move beyond simply implementing new technology to using health IT to improve care and outcomes.  ONC is particularly interested in how to turn data collection through electronic health records into a quality improvement program and so invited groups like ours.


    • What’s unique about HIT is how fast it can adapt and change in response to needs and feedback


    • And it’s important to harness the knowledge within the field.  For me, this was the most important message of the day and one that’s right in line with what we’re doing in the ImproveCareNow Network and C3N Project.  It’s our responsibility to share the knowledge of all – patients, clinicians, and researchers to make health care better.  If patients and clinicians don’t speak up and share what they know, patients will suffer by not getting the best care

During the conference participants shared numerous examples of how HIT and the Affordable Care Act are working to make care better, more efficient and cheaper

    • HIT helps to engage patients in collaboration in addressing their problems.  “You use it in collaboration with patients to guide their care.” Mike Zeroukian, MD


    • Charles Kennedy, MD Aetna.  “We will increasingly see health insurers pay for health information exchange and better use of data.”

Participants also noted the many limitations of current technologies including:

    • Ways for patients to share information among providers


    • The need for greater public awareness about individual vendors’ willingness and action in making data sharing possible across systems


    • The need for public usability ratings for EMRs (like Consumer Reports) to spawn greater competition in meeting the needs of practicing clinicians


    • The need for EMR vendors need to learn about how to support QI

Overall, it was clear that administration officials were listening and that much excellent work is taking place in the field.  It’s a pleasure to be able to represent the work of ImproveCareNow and the C3N Project, which is one of several data and knowledge sharing networks for kids with chronic illness.  Networks such as ours will be the way of the HIT future.

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