Bridge to health IT future may need strengthening

By Jeff Rowe
08:46 AM

Healthcare stakeholders and policymakers are working overtime to build the bridge into the digital future.

But is there a risk that bridge may collapse under the weight of expectations?

This writer doesn’t go that far, but in laying out the expectations increasingly being placed on healthcare IT groups, it’s not hard to imagine at least a bit of a backlash from IT professionals still getting used to their new capabilities.

As he sees it, there are three categories of hurdles IT departments need to leap as they help administrative and clinical colleagues pursue efficiency and better health outcomes.

“First, healthcare IT groups strain under near-term reporting burdens. Second, as the industry moves away from a fee-for-service revenue foundation to a value-based purchasing model, many healthcare IT groups may find that they have to respond to a slew of internal demands for reporting and analysis. The investments required are many, and the return on investment often is unclear. Finally, for a long time, the IT needs of the industry, especially on the clinical side of the house, have been met with highly targeted software applications. The consequence is that many organizations find they have to accommodate a variety of software packages and data structures, which presents vexing problems now that both business and clinical analytics depend on using an integrated set of data.”

The rest of the article unpacks this succinct summation of a whole lot of responsibilities being thrust upon IT departments.  And when read in the light of the recent RAND Corporation report that pointed to a distinct lack of economic efficiencies resulting from the implementation of EHRs, one begins to wonder if the greatest challenge we will face moving forward, both as healthcare professionals and as a society, is tempering the expectations that have been stoked concerning what we stand to gain from EHRs. 

Yes, good things will happen, but probably not nearly as quickly as many would like them to.  It’s likely for the good of all, in particular the IT pros who are working their tails off, if we recognize that.