Editor's Note: which features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for bloggers to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Glen Stream, MD, FAAFP, MBI, a family physician practicing in La Quinta, California, who is also past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He serves as the president and board chair of Family Medicine for America’s Health. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of or UBM Medica.
While a far cry from the health information technology available today, European doctors in the 1800s adopted the technology of their day—rudimentary tools like scalpels, probes and a revolutionary device invented by a French physician in 1816: a wooden tube that doctors used to listen and diagnose heart and lung diseases. It’s called a stethoscope.
Just as the first stethoscope marked a major step in the ability to diagnose disease, today’s health information technology has the potential to improve the health of patients, the quality of care they receive and motivate individuals to engage more in controlling their own health and well-being.
But despite the potential, health IT has yet to deliver fully on its promise, falling short of supporting a healthcare system in a way that is sustainable and that can play a central role in improving the health of the U.S. population.
Policymakers agree on the need to overhaul the country’s underperforming healthcare system to deliver on the “Triple Aim” of better health, better quality and better value. But, according to a recent report by Family Medicine for America’s Health, a coalition of the nation’s eight leading family medicine organizations, rather than being a catalyst to “foster connections and relationships among health care professionals, individuals and communities,” health IT frequently serves as a “barrier” to achieving those goals.
It’s also hurting one group it’s supposed to help—doctors.