It's easy to talk about the barriers to interoperability, frankly. It's a bit tougher to offer actionable strategies for moving closer to a day when data and information flow freely across systems.
The healthcare industry has had its share of negative press in 2013, most notably a litany of stories over the past two months detailing the federal government's now infamous launch of HealthCare.gov in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. To that end, I'd like to put my own twist on a Thanksgiving tradition, and offer up a health IT version of reasons to be thankful. Here are three.
I recently moderated a panel discussion on one of the most intractable problems in healthcare today: the ability--or lack thereof--to seamlessly share data across organizations, systems, platforms, devices and more. The live and online event on interoperability was hosted by West Health, a research organization that focuses on technologies to reduce healthcare costs.
Interoperability is an issue that the health IT community has been talking about for so many years--and yet solutions are tantalizingly out of reach. This despite the fact that there are enormous incentives to get it done.
Ask any hospital CIO to name their most challenging 2014 initiatives, and the transition to ICD-10 is almost certain to be at or near the top of their list. While physician practices clearly have been the most vocal about their displeasure with the mandatory switch from ICD-9--set to go into effect on Oct. 1, 2014--their hospital system brethren haven't been shy about their concerns, either.
With that in mind, last week's news that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may be open to ICD-10 testing is a (potential) breath of fresh air for the industry. All indications to date about the transition--despite a smattering of success stories here and there--are that it won't be a smooth one; that tells me that providers could use all the guidance they can get.
As of this morning, the U.S. government is no closer to ending the shutdown, which has kept more than 800,000 federal employees out of work since last Tuesday. While the impact of the shutdown on health IT hasn't been front and center in mainstream press coverage, I think it's important to consider the following while thinking about the potential impact on both providers and patients...
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services anticipates that it will take healthcare organizations a shade under 33 million hours to comply with the modified HIPAA Omnibus rule, published last January. In other words, providers have A LOT of work ahead of them, particularly with the deadline now two weeks away.
It's discouraging to read that more than half of physicians say the costs of electronic health records systems outweigh the financial benefits. But it's also heartening to see that, in the survey of 1,200 employed and independent physicians, most agree the benefits to patient care do justify the investment.
Reminds me of the much-spoofed MasterCard commercial: Electronic health records system: $15,000 to $70,000. Patient safety and quality: Priceless.