Blumenthal: Health IT Must Have Value for Success

HHS National Coordinator for HIT David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, spoke about the value of adopting EHRs during a lecture at the ACC.10.

Health and Human Services National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

(IT) David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., spoke about the value of adopting electronic health records (EHRs) during a lecture Sunday at the ACC.10 & i2 Summit Health IT Spotlight

Session, in partnership with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. Dr. Blumenthal was the inaugural James T. Dove Lecturer.

Dr. Blumenthal talked at length about the purpose of federal health IT efforts.

“We want to make it easier for physicians to start down the road of using an EHR to make them better physicians, make care better for patients and add more value to their lives.” He added, “If you can’t show value of the EHR, physicians will not keep using it.”

As the national coordinator of Health IT, Dr. Blumenthal leads the effort to provide the US

with a nationwide, interoperable health IT network. As part of this, Congress in 2009 authorized the creation of a federal program to offer bonuses of up to $44,000 per physician to health care providers who adopt an EHR. To qualify, physicians must demonstrate “meaningful use” of the EHR.

Dr. Blumenthal discussed the meaning of “meaningful use,” the proposed definition of which was released in late December 2009 and is open for public comment.

“Meaningful use is a powerful concept,” he said. “It’s a blurring, uncertain concept that is vaguely evocative of government oversight and coercion. But what it really means is that Congress wants us to not only get an EHR but actually use it. Every part of the proposed definition relates to patient care and how we can improve the patient experience.”

The program requires that practices adopt an EHR by 2015 or face a 1 percent or greater penalty on their Medicare charges. This requirement still will not get all practices to adopt EHRs by 2014, but it will create pressure on practices without EHRs to implement them, Dr. Blumenthal said.

“The peer pressure on those individuals who won’t have implemented an EHR ultimately will force them to change,” he said. “Our goal is to get to that tipping point.

“I don’t think it requires the audacity of hope to think that we can have an EHR system that is nationwide and interoperable. I think it makes common sense.”

Following Dr. Blumenthal’s presentation, ACC President Alfred Bove, MD, PhD, spoke about the intersection of health IT and his presidential initiative, the Year of the Patient. Health IT has the ability to allow for continuous communication between physicians and patients and increase the ways physicians interact with patients.

Dr. Bove discussed an example of a program that adapted its systems to popular existing technologies, such as cell phones, to reach patients. He said physicians should be allowing patients to send their data through the cell phone keypad, and physicians should send patients phone reminders and texts. This would help to reach patients in an asynchronous fashion, he said.

A presentation by Michael O’Toole, MD, of Midwest Heart Specialists, concluded the session. Dr. O’Toole discussed how health IT can be used to capture quality measures at the point of care.

“The big question is, ‘How can we embed quality improvement and measurement into our practice workflow to spend more time with the patient and less time digging around for information?’ Practices can do this through health IT,” he said.

For more information about health IT, visit: www.acc.org/healthkit.

Source: American College of Cardiology’s

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