Transforming Health Care: The Role of Health IT

Friday, January 27, 2012

Health information technology (IT) plays a critical role in supporting new models of care and payment that are designed to improve quality, reduce costs, and improve the patient experience of care.

The authorization of up to $30 billion to support health IT under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 has spurred significant private sector investment to further increase the use of health IT.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s report, Transforming Health Care: The Role of Health ITexplores the common attributes of high performance and delivery system reforms designed to improve the cost and quality of care and identifies the health IT capabilities needed to achieve those attributes. The report also identifies gaps and makes recommendations to advance the adoption of IT capabilities needed to support high performance and new models of care.

Results of a review of the literature and interviews with 40 high-performing organizations informed the report, which was developed under the guidance of BPC’s Task Force on Delivery System Reform and Health IT, led by former Senate Majority Leaders and BPC Health Project Co-Chairs Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Bill Frist (R-TN) and comprised of several nationally respected experts and leaders from many sectors of health care.

Common attributes of high-performing organizations and new models of care include the following:

  1. An organization-wide focus on the needs of the patient
  2. Strong organizational and clinical leadership
  3. Access to information to support efficient, coordinated care
  4. Timely access to care
  5. Emphasis on prevention, wellness and healthy behaviors
  6. Accountability, alignment of incentives, and payment reform

Recommendations to address key gaps in and barriers to achievement of the health IT capabilities needed for high-performance and new models of care, included in the report fall into six primary areas:

  1. Align incentives
  2. Accelerate health Information exchange efforts
  3. Accelerate and support engagement of consumers using electronic tools
  4. Expand education and implementation assistance
  5. Address concerns about privacy and security
  6. Further align federal health care and health IT programs
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