Sunday, March 8, 2009

Research Key to Success

Funding health IT research is needed to prove that health technologies can be totally productive in the healthcare environment, according to Kentucky’s Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo M.D. He voiced his ideas at the 2009 Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration (HISPC) Conference held in Bethesda Maryland on March 5th.

He explained that Eastern Kentucky with 10,000 uninsured patients has used e-health for the past several years. By being able to share medical information, costs in that part of Kentucky have been reduced by 60% for patients in the top ten healthcare categories, by 87% in hospitals, and 92% in ER visits. This has occurred because decision makers can provide the right care by having the right information at their fingertips.

The Lieutenant Governor notes that although healthcare professionals have been slow to implement electronic health technology, this is not necessarily because of the cost involved or the providers’ lack of interest in using technology in their offices. One of the main reasons for slow implementation is that since there hasn’t been any research done on comprehensive IT models, and therefore providers haven’t seen the proof that health IT is effective. They are told continually that health IT is effective but many providers aren’t yet convinced.

The Lieutenant Governor reported that so far, limited funds have been available for investing in health IT research. Funds are needed to prove that HIT is effective, the data needs to be published, and at that point, the technology should be integrated into clinical practices.

The Lieutenant Governor went on to say a National Research Facility is needed that would provide a comprehensive model for next generation healthcare. The research must prove that there is a return on investment in the technology and that the use of health IT has an impact on health outcomes.

The proof obtained from research on the effectiveness of health IT would really help U.S companies such as GE, Microsoft, and Google sell the medical community on technology. Health IT companies need to have the right evidence to be able to penetrate the largest IT markets not only nationally but globally.

Research dollars also need to develop decision support tools, develop programs to help deal with population health and prevention, provide biosurveillance data to increase the ability to pinpoint hot spots for diseases, and provide for a viable program on genomics.