Existing health IT is meant to help. Too bad it doesn't

The American Academy of Family Physicians says that needs to change, and points to the kind of technology that actually enables better care.
By Tom Sullivan
11:29 AM
doctors using technology with patients

It’s a hard reality: Technologies that hospitals are using today do not adequately support the health of Americans, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“We believe that new types of information and new kinds of technology are needed,” AAFP wrote in the Annals of Family Medicine. “Technology has great potential to help foster connections and relationships among healthcare professionals, individuals, and communities, and to be a catalyst instead of the barrier it frequently is today.”

In the article, Vision for a Principled Redesign of Health Information Technology, the authors laid out a roadmap that they claimed should “form a national priority to close the gap in current health IT,” with expectations extending 10 years into the future.

[Also: Interoperability will be solved in 5 to 6 years, Carolinas IT chief says]

The AAFP authors said in one year data visualization technologies will be central to care decisions, software will be capable of integrating patient-generated health data into EHRs, and new tools will emerge to better enable doctor-patient communications.

“We will see new technologies and new roles for technology that enable health system redesign and improvement, while supporting comprehensive payment models that focus on care delivery and health,” they said.

Looking ahead 3 years, the AAFP projected that transparent and actionable data will be widely available, including evidence-based medicine at the point of care. Technologies will also enable patients to engage in healthy behaviors and access their own medical records. And on the provider back-end, technology will drive more reliable learning within the health system.

“Technology will support value-based care and payment to enable achievement of the Triple Aim,” the authors said.

Five years into the future, AAFP envisions technology handling interoperability tasks thereby “allowing doctors and patients to know what is happening in parts of the care process that may be obscured from his/her view” and aggregating data to spot health issues early and improve overall wellbeing.

Then in seven years, technologies will both bridge care gaps to reduce disparities and create what AAFP authors called “frictionless” delivery of relevant data in a way that restores the joy of practicing medicine.

AAFP winds down the vision with a look at what should be in place a decade from today.

“Technology will fully support primary care doctors to be leaders, partners, and advocates for the health of all,” AAFP noted. “Ultimately technology will allow patients to be in control of their health.”

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com

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