America / Healthcare / Politics

Health IT: Can We Integrate Healthcare With Technology?

Here’s a novel idea: Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin proposes an idea to enforce the use of real names and identity of Facebook users in order to provide accurate health related information to the right person.

Health information technology is an idea that has been discussed in the past, but more so now because of the buzz of healthcare resulting from the ACA. Last week, Bipartisan Policy Center hosted an event entitled “An Oversight Framework For Assuring Patient Safety in Health IT.” The BPC proposes a set of recommendation for an oversight framework to protect patient safety, provide flexibility to the patients, avoid regulatory duplication, and provide support to experts and stakeholders in every sector of healthcare.

According to a study from The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority finds that health information technology was used in only 3,900 of 1.7 million cases in 2012. Medication errors were involved in approximately 81% of electronic health record (EHR) incidents. In addition, Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority reports that EHR related hospital incidents doubled in 2011 compared to 2010. Shockingly, 47% were caused by human error by health professionals and 18% of cases were the result of failure to update data in EHR systems.

Along with this finding, the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association published a paper titled “Unintended errors with EHR-based result management: a case series.” In this study, the researchers found that using EHR could improve the speed of result delivery and make patient results easily accessible to the providers. However, EHR does have the potential to cause repeated errors before a problem is recognized.

With potentially unwanted side effects of EHR, why does Facebook or the BPC want to propose a framework or an idea to emerge healthcare with technology?

According to CBO’s study of “Evidence on the Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology,” there are several benefits in quality of care if EHR is properly used. The following are few examples of successful use of EHR for providers: they can be reminded of appropriate preventive care for individual patients, can easily recognized harmful drug interactions, avoid possible allergic responses to drugs, and assist in managing patients with chronic conditions. More importantly, RAND Corporation and Center for Information Technology Leadership evaluated that expanding health IT for more effective health delivery system could potentially save an estimated net annual value of $80 billion thanks to technology.

It’s obvious to me that the current, healthcare system is in turmoil. How to fix it all is a question that Congress should address. Along with the worries of healthcare spending and costs, I believe that health IT is another crucial health policy issue that is almost never directly addressed.

Especially in this generation where technology has been highly improved and developed over the years, there are no excuses for healthcare IT system not to be in line with present-day technology advancements.

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