At a long-term-care "summit" held in August 2005 in Chicago, participants noted how their interests were often left out of discussions, legislation and programs designed to promote adoption of health information technology. To prevent this from happening again, summit organizers recently released A Road Map for Health IT in Long-Term Care, a report recommending actions that need to be taken to ensure that long-term-care issues are not forgotten as health IT adoption efforts advance.
According to the report, the ultimate aim of these efforts should be to improve the quality of healthcare and quality of life for senior citizens and to fulfill the promise of health IT to maximize the independence of older adults, support professional and family caregivers, increase efficiency and reduce healthcare expenditures. Immediate next steps include mobilizing and monitoring efforts to promote IT in long-term-care settings and holding another summit this spring.
"Aging services have always taken a holistic approach centered on an individual's health, well-being, preferences, and quality of life and engagement. The adoption of health IT offers new opportunities to realize and extend that vision," the report states. "Patients' and residents' preferences need to be highlighted in care planning and treatment. Technology needs to support improved communication between patients, families and caregivers."