BPC Report: Patient Safety & IT

Improving information technology’s role in providing safer care requires not only leadership but also public-private sector collaboration. The need to achieve interoperability, effectively use data, and further develop safety standards were discussed by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) http://bipartisanpolicy.org, upon the release of BPC’s report “Patient Safety and Information Technology” funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation www.moore.org.

Janet Marchibroda, BPC’s Director of Health Innovation, reports the Federal Government has spent $36 billion in EHRs and today, 90 percent of doctors and hospitals are using health IT. She praised the passage of the “21st Century Cures Act” for laying the groundwork for an oversight health IT framework by providing much needed regulatory clarity.

William H. Frist, MD, Former U.S Senate Majority Leader and presently Senior Fellow and Chair for Advancing Medical Innovation Initiative at BPC, said, “It is very important to improve information technology’s role in providing safe care to be shared among organizations and companies using the products. It is important for all of us to work together to develop actionable solutions to improve patient safety in the healthcare system.”

At a panel discussion, Karen DeSalvo, M.D, Former National Coordinator for HIT, Former Acting Assistant Secretary for HHS, emphasized the urgent need to actively push digitalization in the healthcare market so data can be actionable.

Dr. DeSalvo said, “Using Technology is crucial if we want to enable the practice of medicine to provide the right treatment at the right time. This is will be made possible by using EHRs across the country, but at the same time, we must develop new technologies capable of interacting with other technologies. Information technology is in the adolescent phase of development, but we must look to the future so information will go to where the essential information is truly needed.”

According to Andrew von Eschenbach, President Samaritan Health Initiative and Senior Advisor, for Advancing Medical Innovation at the BPC, “So far this country doesn’t yet have the ability to bring data together with interoperable systems in order to find truly effective solutions to care for patients.”

He adds, “Doctors have always practiced in an individualized medical society so it’s hard for doctors always to incorporate technology into their practices. However, as doctors struggle with variations in diseases, it is essential for doctors to have up-to-date connected value-based information systems for their use.”

He added, “Managing data in the future is going to be even more difficult since utilizing genomic data effectively will require doctors to have interoperable systems to analyze the data, analytics to study the patterns in data, and the last step will be to integrate the data into the medical history of the patient.”

So far, several actions have been taken by Congress, the Executive Branch, and the private sector to advance an oversight framework for health IT, but the BPC Report points out the need to encourage launching a coordinated effort supported by public and private sector funding to move health IT safety priorities rapidly forward.

Representative Bart Gordon (D-TN), Former Member of the U.S House of Representatives, Chair for the Advancing Medical Innovation for BPC, moderated the second panel discussion with Leah Binder, PhD, President and CEO for the Leapfrog Group, Janet Corrigan PhD, Chief Program Officer for Patient Care for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and John Glaser, PhD, Senior VP, Population Health at Cerner Corporation.

Representative Gordon summed up the discussion by saying “Improving safety in the development, implementation, and use of health IT requires using data to understand the nature of the health or medical problem, developing and driving the adoption of standards, and promoting widespread use of best practices.

Download the report at http://bipartisanpolicy.org.

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