The Promise of Health IT

Federal and state governments have paid more than $15B in EHR incentives since January 2011. The goal of the HITECH Act is simple: improve patient care through technology investment. Here are some early benefits seen so far:

  • Improved care through e-prescriptions, drug interaction warnings and decision support tools
  • Improved physician workflow
  • Clinical outcomes data in the patient record

Outcomes data allows doctors to objectively see a patient’s progress over time and can assist the provider with both treatment selection and the fine-tuning of a plan as necessary. While powerful in its own right, this same outcomes data aggregated over large portions of the population will make treatment effectiveness data available to researchers that was previously cost prohibitive to obtain.

How 1s and 0s will make you healthier

The promise of Health IT goes well beyond ease of use for providers or even treatment effectiveness research; Health IT can change the way people think about their health and well-being which has the power to change behavior.

By combining a patient’s data gathered at the point of care with their feedback, they will be able to see comprehensive personal reports illustrating changes in their health over time. Incremental changes become more apparent when displayed graphically, providing a powerful message which will enhance a doctor’s recommendation for treatment or general advice for a healthier lifestyle.
Meaningful analysis of patient data, across large sample sizes afforded by structured EMR systems will provide researchers and patients alike an opportunity to review in detail the health of both individuals and populations over time.

You have better access to stock market data than your health data

How many patients with psoriatic arthritis have seen charts showing the effectiveness of different treatments for their specific demographic group and comorbidities? I imagine not many.

As new tools are created and integrated, patients will have unprecedented access to data about their health and the methods providers use to treat various conditions. Informed patients are more likely to adhere to treatment regimens partly because they understand their conditions and treatment options, and also because they will be able to participate in the treatment decision process.

Health IT has already changed the way many providers deliver care, the way insurance companies measure effectiveness and the way researchers conduct clinical trials. The next leap forward is for patients to assume more responsibility for their health; with additional tools and access to information patients can increase the effectiveness of the care delivered by their healthcare providers.

Read all coverage of the National Health IT Week Blog Carnival at

Aaron Stoklosa
Aaron Stoklosa

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