Julie Barnes, Director of Health Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) welcomed keynoter Senator Bill Frist M.D., Senior Fellow at BPC and Co-Leader for the BPC Health Project to an event in Washington D.C to talk about the necessity for health IT and how it is affecting the delivery of healthcare.
The Senator emphasized the need to tackle the big issues in order for health IT to be used to achieve good health, improve healthcare delivery, and reduce the cost of care. The HITECH Act is helping to bring together an unprecedented financial investment to lay the foundation for a new delivery system.
On October 3rd, Barnes announced the release two BPC companion reports containing up-to-date survey information on how the electronic sharing of information across multiple settings is proceeding and future actions needed.
The two reports “Accelerating Electronic Information Sharing to Improve Quality and Reduce Costs in Health Care” and the second report “Clinician Perspectives on Electronic Health Information Sharing for Transitions of Care” describe where we are as a country and what more we need to do to further improve the delivery of healthcare.
The report’s findings are the results of a survey conducted by “Doctors Helping Doctors Transform Health Care” in collaboration with the American College of Physicians, other medical societies, and the collaborative efforts of the BPC Health IT Initiative.
From the clinician’s perspective, about 70 percent of clinicians surveyed believe that the lack of interoperability and exchange infrastructure and the costs associated with both are major barriers to electronic information sharing.
In general, other key findings in the reports were:
- A business case for electronic health information sharing is now emerging
- Stage 2 meaningful use supports increased interoperability and electronic health information sharing
- Clinicians have common electronic health information needs and requirements
The general recommendations emerging from the two reports are to accelerate interoperability, improve the accuracy of patient matching, update current laws to advance information sharing, and further address privacy and security laws.
Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for HIT commented that what is happening today in managing data wasn’t happening 20 years ago in terms of quality, the ability to exchange data, and engaging the patient. He told the event attendees that this is an exciting time for healthcare in terms of delivery, accountable care, with much more actually happening all over the country.”
As he explained, Stage 1 of the meaningful use program addressed quality measures and set the basic functionalities for EHRs. Stage 2 which will begin as early as 2014, increases health information exchange between providers, and Stage 3 will continue to expand meaningful use objectives.
The BPC event included panel sessions moderated by Janet Marchibroda, Chair of the Health IT Initiative at BPC. The first panel was titled “Clinician Perspectives on Electronic Health Information Sharing: Reactions from the Medical Profession”.
Several key findings and reactions were discussed by physicians familiar with all of the issues and problems they face in dealing with the electronic sharing of data. Participants in the panel included:
- Michael S. Barr, MD. Senior VP, American College of Physicians
- Peter Basch M.D, Medical Director for Ambulatory EHR and HIT Policy MedStar Health, and Chair, Doctors Helping Doctors Transform Health Care
- Christoph U. Lehmann, M.D. Director, Child Health Informatics Center, American Academy of Pediatrics
- Allen Lichter, MD, CEO American Society of Clinical Oncology
- Robert M. Wah, M.D. Immediate Past Chair, Board of Trustees, AMA
All of the doctors on the panel put interoperability at the top of the list, the need to get only the credible and relevant data first, the need for a system that promotes data sharing, timeliness of data, linking EHRs together, address the differences in data required by pediatricians, provide standardized reporting methods to enable sending of all of the essential information but using filters especially for alerts, the need to address cost challenges, the need to design the technology to fit the work flow of today, the need to have relevant lab and imaging test results as soon as possible, and to have access to information across specialties.
For more information on the reports, and to view the video of the BPC event, go to www.bipartisanpolicy.org.