Beyond IT: TEPR speakers call for change in approach to healthcare reform
Attendees at the 25th annual Towards the Electronic Patient Record (TEPR+) conference and exhibition were told Monday that pouring federal funding into healthcare IT won't necessarily solve the nation's healthcare woes.
Several speakers during Monday's opening session, held at the Palm Springs Convention Center told the roughly 200 attendees that healthcare technology is a necessary tool for improving the healthcare crisis, but federal funding and emphasis would be better used on improving the relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient.
"People are the biggest untapped resource," offered Alan Greene, MD, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine and chief of future health for A.D.A.M., Inc.
Greene challenged the established healthcare hierarchy, saying the nation's healthcare system is in a bubble - much like real estate and the banking industry - that places physicians over patients. He said the next four years would see a "massive transformation" in healthcare toward "patient-centered medicine ... wherever you are."
He also encouraged continued investment in healthcare IT.
"People are afraid to invest because we're in an economic downturn," he said. "But that's when we should be investing, instead of taking out debt."
Joseph Heyman, MD, chairman of the board of the American Medical Association, argued that the challenge facing physicians today isn't a lack of healthcare IT, but a lack of information management. He said physicians would adopt electronic medical records if the technology presents all the information needed in a clear format at the point of care, allowing them to drive clinical decisions and summarize and transfer that information to other sources.
"It's not that they're resistant to good products. They just want something that's useful," he said.
Heyman also called on physicians and other healthcare providers to be receptive to sharing data - something that has been slow in developing.
"There's been no precedent in history for sharing all of this information," he pointed out. "But now it's in the patient's best interest and we can't afford not to any more."
"Physicians rank higher on the trust meter with the American public than any other profession," he concluded, "and we don't want to lose that trust."
Adam Bosworth, a former Microsoft executive and head of Google Health who is currently launching his own healthcare company, KEAS, carried the message further. Bosworth argued that Americans less healthy than ever before, with instances of heart disease, diabetes and strokes increasing and the nation's baby boomers heading to retirement age. He further pointed out that the nation all but ignores preventative medicine.