Whose job is it to create the future?

By Jeff Rowe
08:31 AM

Predicting where EHRs are going is, of course, more than just a hobby for many people in the healthcare sector.

But a question that, in our view, merits equal time is, “Whose responsibility is it to move things forward?”

That question came to mind as we were reading this interview with a well-known health IT guru. The discussion looks specifically at what attributes need to be added to EHRs in order to support population health management.

“Among these features,” the article says, “are the ability to automate patient outreach and engagement, clinical analytics and reporting, data integration and sharing among providers, sharing of financial and billing data among disparate organizations, and the ability to generate the work lists that (the interviewee) views as essential to population health management.”

Other features could probably be added to this same list, but what caught our eye were two observations that point to the question we asked above.

First, the interviewee says “the government's certification criteria for EHRs ‘have not done a good job of helping the [EHR] companies create systems that are not going to be silos.’"

Second, he “believes that EHRs don't include most of the population health management features listed above because ‘that hasn't been something that buyers have been clamoring for. But we have more sophisticated buyers coming in the next few years who will tell these EHR vendors, 'I'm not going to buy your product unless it includes these integration features.'"

The obvious question, here, is: “So, should policymakers be corralling vendors into adding features their customers haven’t actually asked for?” Or, conversely, should policymakers be focusing more on raising overall awareness on subjects such as population health management, and then letting the specific technological solutions evolve out of the interaction between vendors and the specific needs or their customers?

In the end, there is probably no simple answer to these questions. Just asking them, however, serves to remind all involved that finding the most effective solutions often involves recognizing and capitalizing on what the public and private sectors separately do best.


Jeff Rowe blogs regularly at EHRWatch.com.