Health information technology (HIT) has had a tremendous – and mostly positive — impact on our systems for recording, delivering, monitoring, and reporting the healthcare and services we deliver.
Like most of my colleagues, I can tick off at least five or six large “pioneer” corporations – companies like Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, Siemens – in the forefront of the technology explosion that yielded important tools for advancing the field of electronic medical records (EMRs).
Although research into their impact on quality of care and patient safety remains modest and is often controversial, these tools have eliminated considerable issues related to poor physician handwriting and have greatly improved internal and external provider communications and reporting.
The question percolating in my mind has to do with where healthcare is headed and what is being done in the HIT arena to help providers meet the challenges posed by health reform.
Accountability is the chief underpinning of the new models of care promulgated by the Affordable Care Act (e.g., Accountable Care Organizations and Patient-Centered Medical Home) – and it is also an expectation for all healthcare providers and organizations.
Accountability requires a more well-rounded view of quality and efficiency of patient care that takes into account combined clinical, administrative, and financial data.
EMRs are essentially electronic charts, but what we need going forward is a tool to promote accountability and measurement of quality and safety.