The American Health Information Community, a federally chartered commission charged with rapidly implementing and disseminating health information technology, met for the third time in Washington on Tuesday to advance President Bush's goal of electronic patient medical records. Those attending and presiding over the meeting included the heaviest hitters in healthcare IT from providers, payers, vendors, government agencies and other stakeholders. Chaired by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Brailer, M.D., the all-day session updated the progress of work groups studying biosurveillance; consumer empowerment; chronic care and disease management; quality measurement; and e-prescribing. The commission, which last met in November 2005, discussed how to move the marketplace to embrace health IT and expedite the adoption of electronic health records. Most conceded that pay-for-performance would aid those efforts.
Brailer talked about HHS' agreements to plan and create electronic health records for patients hit by Hurricane Katrina, saying it could serve as a model for rapid adoption. The commission hopes to have hundreds of thousands, perhaps even several million, patients using electronic health records by year's end, numbers that some members considered unambitiously low. "I'd consider that a failure," said commission member and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Serota. "I think the numbers will be very big very quick."
Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, sought greater hospital involvement in the process, noting that hospitals are already reporting quality information through CMS' Hospital Compare program. Kahn and CMS Administrator Mark McClellan said the new Hospital Compare categories will include infections, mortality results on certain conditions and patient-satisfaction surveys.
Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, suggested that the commission model the healthcare industry after the financial services industry in embracing technology. "I hope we can draw on that and not reinvent the wheel," Barrett said.
"The purpose of this organization rests in our ability to drive consensus and achieve implementation," Leavitt said.