Stakeholders offer ideas for furthering HIT, overcoming challenges

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 - Hurdles

A series of in-depth qualitative interviews about the state of health IT revealed ideas for optimizing use of the tools, innovation, interoperability and more.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Information Association, the study included 47 interviews with a wide range of stakeholders including federal government employees, health policy, HIT and medico-legal experts, health providers, physicians, purchasers, payers, patient advocates and vendors from across the U.S.

The interviews found a widely shared belief that the HITECH Act “catalyzed the creation of a digital infrastructure, which was being used in innovative ways to improve quality of care and curtail costs. There were however major concerns about the poor usability of electronic health records (EHRs), their limited ability to support multi-disciplinary care and major difficulties with health information exchange, which undermined efforts to deliver integrated patient-centered care.”

Interviewees proposed strategies for enhancing the benefits of HIT including federal stimulation of competition by mandating vendors to open-up their application program interfaces, incenting development of low-cost consumer informatics tools, and promoting congressional review of HIPAA to optimize the balance between data privacy and reuse.

Although the HITECH Act has stimulated unprecedented, multi-stakeholder interest in health IT, “achieving the hoped for radical transformation will be crucially dependent on aligning HIT initiatives with wider structural and financial reform initiatives. Promoting greater competition and innovation among EHR vendors, maximizing HIE and interoperability, and being alert to the possible ramifications of provider consolidation and associated inflation of costs should be key policy areas for the federal government to focus on in the near-term,” the authors wrote.