As an Alliance of health IT suppliers, it is probably pretty obvious that we see tremendous value in the use of IT solutions in the health care system. We have all seen firsthand the benefits an electronic system can deliver for providers, patients, payers, pharmacists, laboratories and the like. And the introduction of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was the fuel to spread health IT and broaden the range of individuals to experience these benefits.
However, for those in charge of delivering health care, it is an uphill, disruptive journey that, at times, feels like there may be no end. Like any industry that is in the middle of a transformation like the one health care industry is facing today, there is bound to be frustration and uncertainty for those in the middle of it.
As suppliers, it is our responsibility to provide the most effective, innovative technology that will create efficiencies for our customer organizations and free up time for them to focus more on their patients. IT implementation factors like system training and workflow adjustments as well as outside influences, such as changes in reimbursement, the Affordable Care Act and ICD-10 implementation (just to name a few), are all striking the health care industry at once. This is contributing to the frustration we hear from our customers and in the market and is making it difficult for providers to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite these challenges, many providers and health systems continue to charge forward, understanding the value IT can bring to their organization and embracing the electronic change. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid recently reported that nearly 410,000 providers were registered for the meaningful use program and that $15.9 billion had been paid to eligible providers who have successfully attested since the inception of the program.1 That is nearly half of the practicing providers today and a significant increase in IT adoption if you look at the 180,000 providers that participated in the meaningful use program in its first year (2011).2
But suppliers and providers can’t undertake these efforts alone, working solely within our own silos. Only when working together can our industry be successful. Never has there been a greater need for IT to go beyond the walls of a single care facility. We need to have a connected, fully-functioning electronic health care system and unlock the full potential of our health IT systems.
Interoperability is the key, and is the basis for why we intend to create an Alliance and what continues to fuel our passion for making national health data exchange a reality. Having interoperability functionality that is inherent within a health IT system will bring enormous benefit to both providers and patients. With it, providers can have the full view of a person’s health record across any care venue, regardless of whether it is within or outside of their own health system.
Would we as suppliers benefit too? Sure. Imagine a world where IT suppliers no longer had to devote tedious development hours to interoperability efforts. The functionality would instead be embedded within their systems through the service provider of the CommonWell Health Alliance. This has the potential to free development time that can then be reverted to focusing on feature enhancements and functionality efforts.
But at the center of it all is the person. We all have sat in waiting rooms filling out endless medical forms wracking our brains for what medications we are taking or which grandparent had diabetes. We see our vision at the CommonWell Health Alliance as ensuring the patient is put first. To ensure that health data is available to individuals and providers regardless of where care occurs. To ensure that providers’ access to this data is built-in to HIT at a reasonable cost for use by a broad range of health care providers and the people they serve.
Five years from now, it will be interesting to look back on today, a day within the 8th Annual National Health IT Week, and see how the health care industry has evolved. Many of us saw Apple’s unveiling of the new iPhone this past week. If there is any gold standard in innovation, it is the transformation of the cellular phone or smart phone, as we refer to it today.
Other industries have had their time to transform and fully embrace the advancements technology can bring to their industry. It is now the health care industries turn, and we are here to lead it with you.
Greenway Medical Technologies
The CommonWell Health Alliance is a collaborative effort amongst health IT suppliers devoted to the simple vision that a patient’s data should be available to patients and providers regardless of where care occurs. The CommonWell Health Alliance plans to define and promote a national infrastructure with common standards and policies. The services CommonWell will be validating in its initial pilot include:
- Identity Management. Provide a way for HIT suppliers to quickly and accurately identify patients as they transition through care facilities.
- Record Locator. Help providers locate and access their patients’ records, regardless of where the encounter occurred, by providing a “virtual table of contents” that lists documents available data from each encounter location.
- Consent Management. Deliver a patient-authorized means to simplify management of data sharing consents and authorizations.
- Trusted Data Access. Provide authentication and auditing services that facilitate trusted data sharing among member systems.
Learn more at www.commonwellalliance.org.
Disclaimer: The “CommonWell Health Alliance” or “CommonWell” refers to a consortium of IT vendors planning to form an organization that will promote data interoperability across HIT systems. It is not yet a legally formed entity. Therefore, the contents of this web page are contributions of the companies participating in the consortium, and are for informational purposes only.