10 health IT wishes for 2012

By Michelle McNickle
01:45 PM

6. Less whining about going to ICD-10 and smarter planning about how to get there. Whittington said her point with this wish is simple. “It’s like,'Come on guys, we’ve known for a long time that we’re the last country in the world [to transition to ICD-10] and we need to go there,'” she said. “For a while ... the argument from the AMA was, 'We’re too busy and we have a lot of other things going on,’ and I agree; there is a lot of change. But we’ve known about this for years.” There’s going to be change in how care is delivered for many years to come, she continued, and waiting for things to calm down would take even longer. “Just suck it up,” she said. “That’s what I tell my kids.”

7. More innovation across all of healthcare but mainly health IT. EHRs in hospitals just aren’t innovative enough, said Whittington. “There’s a lot of money being dumped in and all these systems being put in, but doctors are still complaining that it slows them down and is cumbersome,” she said. According to her, there needs to be more innovation around ways to get information into the EHR from the beginning. “We’re starting to see a little glimmer of hope with transcription work and being able to put info into an EHR, but we haven’t begun to realize of the benefit [of EHRs] because we still struggle to get information in and out,” she said. 

[See also: Interoperability should be top priority for NHS, report says.]

8. A shift to patient-centered care and population health. “The way we have our health delivery system set up, with hospitals being the center of the universe and EHRs being the information repository, we aren’t necessarily making populations more healthy,” said Whittington. She referenced once again the strategic plan, which calls for more attention paid to shifting the center of care out of the hospitals. “As we build out HIT infrastructure, we need to think about where patients need to go to find the right care at the right place at the right time to keep populations healthy.”

9. Value out of big data in healthcare. Professionals are constantly “throwing data” into their EHRs, but, said Whittington, we haven’t even begun to realize the value we can get out of it. “You can even tie in ICD-10 and a lot of other principles into this as we get better at capturing granular data in patients,” she said. “ICD-10 helps with that: apples to apples coding, more specifically. We should get better at comparative effectiveness research and knowing what’s going on.” 

10. The expansion of telehealth principles into the wellness space. “The way we deliver healthcare today is inefficient, and it’s not going to take us into the future if we ever intend to be cost effective and affect the health of more people,” said Whittington. She recognized the positive ways telehealth is being used in rural communities, but she said she would like to see it being used more to keep populations healthy. “So if a patient wakes up and checks [his/her] glucose levels, the results are beamed to a case management center,” she said. “And if you take that one step further, all of the people who walk into the ER for their strep throats. It’s about using the principles of telehealth to keep those folks where they belong.”

Follow Michelle McNickle on Twitter, @Michelle_writes