RWJF Report Looks at Transitioning in a Post-HITECH World

RWJF-twitterThe Robert Woods Johnson Foundation @RWJF has released a new report looking at the state of Health IT in 2015. The report is the final in a series of 10 issued since 2006 and was produced by researchers from Mathematica Policy Research, Harvard School of Public Health, and the University of Michigan, School of Information. The report looks at both the successes and challenges of national HIT initiatives and assesses what our industry may look like going forward post the HITECH era.

In the report, Health Information Technology in the United States, 2015: Transition to a Post-HITECH World, the researchers write: “Significant policy changes and public investments have advanced the adoption of health information technology. However, more needs to be done to move the nation toward a truly interoperable health care system.”

The report covers the spectrum of health IT initiatives these past nine years, concluding with a Coordinator’s Corner, where past National Coordinators of Health Information Technology (David Brailer @DavidBrailer, David Blumenthal @DavidBlumenthal, Farzad Mostashari @Farzad_MD, and Karen DeSalvo @KBDeSalvo) offer their insights and reflections on our nation’s efforts to transform healthcare delivery.

In evaluating the success of the HITECH Act itself, the researchers write:

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The lasting impact of HITECH remains to be seen. As the incentive programs progress to more advanced functionalities in later stages of meaningful use, and as the penalty phases of the programs begin, health professionals will have to continue moving toward health information exchange, patient engagement, and quality measurement. While the impact of HITECH is not yet clear, the pace of adoption of technologies by the public is likely to continue at a rapid pace. Consumer engagement with technology is likely to bring further pressure to bear on health care organizations as patients seek ways to use these devices to track and transmit their own data and interact with health care health professionals. In the following chapters of this report, we review what is known about the effect of HITECH and explore the possibilities of a post-HITECH future.[/content_box]

With regards to the achievement of widespread interoperability, the researchers point to two potential catalysts to overcome impediments to the meaningful exchange of health information: changes to payment reform, and the emergence of HL7 interoperable software architectures like Resource Description Framework (RDF), Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), and Suitable Medical Apps and Reusable Technology (SMART).

The researchers also discuss the implications of big data in the healthcare system, exploring both its limitations and potential uses, concluding big data is a “worthy agenda for federal agencies, health professionals, payers, vendors, and other key stakeholders to pursue during the next few years.”

You can read or download the full RWJF report.