Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater folks…

For anyone that has followed the news in recent weeks, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Exchange website has, to put it mildly, faced significant challenges.  As Congress holds hearings and contractors and bureaucrats are held accountable, it is clear that the Federal government’s performance with health IT has been under tremendous scrutiny.  While the exchanges have certainly had their share of fits and starts, we should not forget that there are positive gains in health care as it relates to technology. 

Browsing the HealthIT.gov website is a great place to start to see what is going on in the world of health information technology.  The site provides a great snapshot of the evolution of this growing facet of the health care industry.  As most would agree, early innovation in the area of health information technology was largely driven by the desire to improve productivity and efficiency.  In fact, a 2013 HIMSS iHIT Study points out that when surveyed “70 percent of respondents were likely to note that HIT benefitted their overall ability to provide care efficiently, including the ability to have the information needed to understand their daily caseload.”  There is no doubt that the growth of electronic medical records has had a meaningful impact on patients and the quality of their care.  As a consequence of these technological advancements, however, EMR enhancements have also spawned a number of related areas of concern and continued improvement.  These topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Interoperability –sharing and exchanging data between providers
  • Clinical Decision Making – reducing medical errors and improving care with up to date medical information
  • Patient Engagement – giving patients more access to their own records
  • Security and Privacy – making sure sensitive patient data is protected and safe from unwanted exposure

Health IT is not only evolving at the Federal level, but states are also getting in the act.  Check out these quick statistics for a glimpse of what your state is doing. 

Clearly, the ACA rollout and the related technology hiccups present a not so great picture of health care right now and how technology is going to empower consumers to shop for coverage options.  However, let’s not forget some of the advancements witnessed in recent decades and how information technology has contributed to the strides we’ve made in patient care.