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Government could lead health tech reform

Mar. 12, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ADAM STONE   |   Comments
Technology is not the barrier to electronic health records, says Dr. Devin Jopp.
Technology is not the barrier to electronic health records, says Dr. Devin Jopp. (WEDI)

The Indian Health Service (IHS) is in the midst of spending $14 million to upgrade its electronic medical records, and acting Chief Information Officer Dr. Howard Hays is already calling it money well spent. “This is our most pressing initiative,” he said.

IHS is working to meet the Meaningful Use standard, a government effort to ensure medical providers have digital records capabilities and are actually using them. Hays is drawing heavily from IT tools to make it happen, including a patient-facing records portal, a secure messaging system for patients and providers, and a new system for calculating quality measures.

In the realm of health care IT, such initiatives are just the beginning. Across a changing landscape, government is both driving development and reaping the benefits of a range of new technologies meant to enhance care and deepen the ability to share information across the spectrum of patients and providers.

Improvements are needed, according to the 2013 state of the industry report from Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange.

Health care still lacks a uniform way to identify patients across providers. There’s still no easy way to capture and share clinical information. Few tools exist to engage the patient outside a clinical setting.

“I don’t think technology is the barrier in any of this,” said WEDI CEO Devin Jopp. With technology drawn from smartphones, electronic banking and other media, it ought to be possible to bump medical intelligence up a notch. Federal agencies can help. “If the federal government moved to embrace and test these things, it could shift the privacy industry to follow suit.”

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