Focus on meaningful care, not just meaningful use

Enough talk about information technology’s use in the practice of medicine. Health IT must become the practice of medicine.

Industry rhetoric revolves around deadlines, delays and debates about health IT’s benefits, largely because of the federal government’s Meaningful Use requirements for EHRs. But we should be discussing health IT’s life altering—or saving—potential to provide Meaningful Care instead of deliberating Meaningful Use, which has become stigmatized as an intrusive mandate focused on funding rather than care.

From documenting how exercise may help lower blood pressure by analyzing EHRs to coordinating care through open technologies, providers, researchers and payers are already leveraging health data to improve patient care. We must next demonstrate and leverage the value of Meaningful Use if we are to use health IT to provide Meaningful Care.

Communication and connectivity will be vital in moving from Meaningful Use to Meaningful Care, and in creating a learning health system that equips physicians and their patients with comprehensive medical histories and best practices for enhancing wellness.

Communication

We must broadly research the effectiveness of health IT and build awareness of the ability to use data to improve care if we are to shift from discourse on Meaningful Use to discussion about Meaningful Care.

We need more studies that demonstrate that health IT represents a safer, better, more useful approach to practicing patient care. Though 85 percent of physicians have adopted EHRs, only 24 percent say they have improved their efficiency while 46 percent claim that they have impaired efficiency, according to The Physicians Foundation’s 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians.

Some physicians resist implementing or using EHRs because they do not view them as a self-evident necessity to adopt, as they would CT imaging technology for example. Unlike other technologies, EHRs have evolved through an incredibly complex, and often unpleasant, process of trial, error and failure that has been marred by disputes over whether their usage contributes to better care.

But the benefits of leveraging data have since been documented in literature for almost every specialty, including surgery, obstetrics and pediatrics. The application of informatics has resulted in improved patient outcomes such as decreased infection rates and quicker discharges from hospitals.

Read the Healthcare IT News article by clicking here.

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