The change we seek

Health IT developers offer their hopes for 2013

Free the data! Empower the patient! Break down those walls! Collaborate! Innovate!

Those are not revolutionary slogans, say the IT vendors  -  developers of electronic health records (EHRs), real-time location systems, data exchange technology and more  -  polled by Healthcare IT News for our year-ahead issue.

Free the data! Empower the patient! Break down those walls! Collaborate! Innovate!

Those are not revolutionary slogans, say the IT vendors  -  developers of electronic health records (EHRs), real-time location systems, data exchange technology and more  -  polled by Healthcare IT News for our year-ahead issue.

Rather, their wish lists for 2013 simply reflect the necessary steps the healthcare industry must take to truly effect the change we all want to see.

"My greatest hope is that 2013 is the year that hospital IT executives and physicians can link arms and become effective collaborators," says Paul Brient, president and CEO of PatientKeeper. 

He bemoans the fact that the "propagation of physician-facing applications  -  CPOE, medication reconciliation, and all manner of EHRs" in the past several years has "had the unfortunate effect of pitting physicians against IT." Often less-than-optimal user interfaces have led to reduced physician productivity, he points out. "There's no other industry in the world that would accept reduced productivity as an outcome of automation." 

In the year ahead, Brient would like to see docs and developers working together to "initiate a virtuous cycle of increased productivity, cooperation and, ultimately, improvements in delivery of patient care," he says. 

Eric Leader, director of product management and business intelligence at Harris Corp., has similarly high hopes for outside the hospital walls. "The biggest gap I see in the United States is population management in the community  -  that includes not just the traditional disease registries, but providing the tools and supporting the process of collaborative care across the community of affiliated and unaffiliated providers," he says. "We've got bits and pieces, but we don't really have a complete solution."

In the next 12 months, Leader hopes to see some strides made in pulling those bits  -  population management tools, health information exchange, secure communications, master patient and provider indexes, care management technology, business intelligence, reporting and dash boarding  -  together.

"I don't think we'll see the whole integrated package, and there will be some gaps in the workflows," he says. "But I think we will see some vast improvement. We're starting to see a whole lot more interest from ACOs and clinical integration networks in more of a consolidated approach. What we see declining is the expectation that a monolithic EHR is going to be able to do all that."

For Edmund Billings, MD, chief medical officer at Medsphere, developers of the OpenVista EHR, continued progress on reimbursement reform and accountable care organizations  -  whatever it takes to incentivize on quality of care is good to help drive the benefit of health IT.

"Meaningful use has been a nice kind of stimulus and has gotten people moving in the right direction, but it won't really take hold until the reimbursement model shifts to help control costs and control quality," he says.

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