Articles, Healthcare Policy December 29, 2009

Looking Back…and Looking Ahead…on the Progress of EHR Implementation

by Barry P Chaiken, MD

In the December 2010 issue of the HIMSS Digital Office, leaders in health information technology share their perspective on the progress of EMR adoption in 2009…and their vision for implementation of electronic health records in 2010. Barry P. Chaiken, MD, FHIMSS, HIMSS Chair shares his vision on adotpion below. This is reprinted from that publication.

What do you think is the greatest achievement in health IT in 2009?
Advances in technology just offer new tools, while advances in politics, represented by meaningful funding levels, provide momentum for real change. The billions of dollars provided to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT established the ONC as a true driver of advances in health IT use. The appointment of a healthcare policy expert David Blumenthal, MD, rather than an informaticist, signals that the Obama Administration is serious about promoting the use of health IT through policy changes that impact how healthcare is delivered in the United States. In addition, recruiting John Glaser, even on his current temporary basis, partners Dr. Blumenthal with one of the country’s leading health IT experts, Therefore, solidifying the funding of the ONC, and appointing Dr. Blumenthal and Mr. Glaser is 2009’s top health IT achievement that will positively impact the use of health IT to deliver safe, high quality and cost effective healthcare.

What would you like to see happen in 2010 to help move forward the adoption of electronic medical records?
When ATMs first appeared in the 1970s, interconnected financial networks did not exist. Customers of a bank could only use their ATM cards in machines provided by their bank. There was no ATM interoperability. The banks soon realized that providing ATM interoperability was considerably less expensive than installing proprietary ATM machines throughout the country. In addition, interoperability gave all banks a national, rather than regional, presence as customers could withdraw funds from any connected ATM. To advance the adoption of EMRs, information technology vendors must honestly embrace interoperability, building their systems to easily accept and exchange clinical data. True interoperability would provide clinicians with more complete patient records allowing for better quality care. Offering a more complete record that provides more value to the clinician strongly works to advance the adoption of health IT applications.

 

Comments 1
  • Joyce: Agreed, however, we must keep in mind penaitt privacy and safety concerns. I am very concerned that the current implementation of Full Service HISP, i.e., interoperability pathway, opens penaitt to identify theft, data loss, hacker and cyber terrorist attack. BAA and NPP paper that limits liability of provider and HIT vendor will not make up for the potential security shortfall of the technology. I believe the House Ways and Means Committee, Health Sub-committee should host an open forum on penaitt privacy and security as soon as possible. Further, I believe (1) that the Conduit approach is the most secure, i.e., it mimics the USPS trust level, and that (2) key management should rest with the end user, i.e., to ensure minimum exposure to key loss or misuse, and (3) if any agency wishes to view PHI they should request a court order. I believe we must protect PHI; we should not open the door to misuse.

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