Health Information Technology: The Gateway to Progress

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<p>There is only one way to mobilize the information in patients' health records: digitize it. In a new post on <a href="/blog/2013/health-information-technology-gateway-progress">The Commonwealth Fund Blog,</a> the Fund's David Blumenthal, M.D., and Anne-Marie J. Audet, M.D, argue this is what the federal HITECH program is all about—getting unused information into digital form to improve care for patients and accelerate reform. </p><p>Aggregated electronic health data can be used to hold providers accountable for the cost and quality of care they deliver, the authors say. And electronic health records, or EHRs, can support research to detect the value and risks of interventions, as well as interactions between patients’ behavior and their health. </p>
<p>Commenting on survey findings published in this week’s <em>Annals of Internal Medicine</em> indicating slow take-up of electronic health records, the authors say that while helpful in guiding implementation, the survey—developed by researchers from Mathematica Policy Research, The Commonwealth Fund, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital—was conducted far too early in HITECH’s rollout to be used to judge the program’s ultimate success.  </p>
<p>"Given the scope and complexity of the effort, it’s no surprise the road to full digitalization is challenging," Blumenthal and Audet write. "There is a lot of hard work involved—some accomplished, some ongoing, and more ahead."</p>
<p>Also read <a href="… Health Records: Are We There Yet? What's Taking So Long</a> by survey coauthor Mike Painter on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Culture of Health" blog. </p>