Articles, PSQH September 20, 2010

A True Tipping Point?

by Barry P Chaiken, MD

From the signing of healthcare reform legislation to the release of final rules for “meaningful use,” events in 2010 are driving toward a true transformation in the delivery of healthcare in the United States. Optimism is high that we will finally see tangible benefits from healthcare information technology as measured by enhanced quality, improved access, and lower costs. I recently reviewed some testimony given to a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee that highlighted the role of healthcare information technology in transforming healthcare delivery.

Here are excerpts from that testimony.

“It is with great anticipation I approach this committee today to give testimony on health care issues and the effect new information technologies will have on the delivery of care. Clearly the swirling debate on how to restructure our health care system has raised the awareness of all Americans to this important issue. It is through the management of information, in particular its dissemination, that we can address some of our health care challenges. We need to use new information technologies to provide physicians, patients, providers and payors with the appropriate, relevant information to produce good, acceptable outcomes from appropriate cost-effective care.

“The information technology revolution is changing the way medical care is delivered. These new tools provide physicians with the opportunity to access relevant clinical information on a real time basis to most likely impact on their patient care. Using standards, guidelines, protocols, and information available from profiling using normative data bases, physicians can obtain useful information on their patterns of care. Patients can obtain understandable information on their disease process, thereby becoming an informed consumer of health care. Organizations exist to educate physicians and other health care professionals in the use of these systems. For-profit firms are developing the tools and making the investment needed to convert data into information.

“My final advice to this committee is hold on tight, the medical information superhighway has no speed limit.”

Excerpts from: A True Tipping Point? PSQH, September/October, 2010


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