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Across the Political Spectrum a Consensus on the Need for Progress

February 3, 2012
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A new bipartisan report examines obstacles to HIT advancement

I find it fascinating how typically members of the two parties in congress find themselves poles apart on most policy issues – especially in a politically charged election year – and yet they’ve found they common ground on health IT. Recently, the Washington D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a report stating there are numerous obstacles in the way of an effective deployment of health IT. The report came with multiple recommendations on how the government can do better.

Behind the report are two of the bigger names in Democratic and Republican politics: former Democratic Senator from South Dakota, Tom Daschle and former Republican Senator from Tennessee, Bill Frist. The report is even backed by David Blumenthal, MD, the former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the Obama administration. There were also contributors from across the healthcare industry: hospitals, insurers, non-profit organizations, medical groups, etc.

Despite the recent prognostications of Farzad Mostashari, MD, the current National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, there remains skepticism in some corners on the pace of progress over the next few years. The BPC says misaligned incentives, a lack of health information exchange, security concerns and limited levels of EHR adoption are among the chief reasons why.

Truth be told, the report brings up a lot of fair points. The BPC’s position on the damaging impact of a lack of health information exchange (HIE) is especially valid. In a recent conversation I had with Jane Metzger, principal researcher at the Waltham, Mass.-based Global Institute for Emerging Healthcare Practices at the Falls Church, Va.-based CSC, she talked about how critical HIEs were to healthcare providers reducing readmission rates and other accountable, patient-centered care initiatives. Finding a sustainable model for HIEs, which the report notes does not yet exist, will be critical to the success of all of HIT.

There are other interesting recommendations and critiques in the report, which can be viewed here, on PHRs, patient engagement and privacy and security.  Take a look and let us know what you think. Is the report a realistic look at Health IT or not?