Federal efforts to promote health information technology are too focused on standards without considering long-term medical outcomes goals, according to the authors of an article published today on the Health Affairs Web site.
After three years of standards documentation by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, the industry is a long way off from the use and implementation of standards that allow providers to share information, wrote the two authors, Carol Diamond, managing director of the health program at the Markle Foundation; and Clay Shirky, adjunct professor in the graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University.
The Markle Foundation recently released a consensus framework of operational, privacy and security guidelines for personal health-record development through its arm Connecting for Health. In the article, Diamond and Shirky stress that technology and standards alone will not lead to health IT adoption. There are serious structural barriers to the use of IT that have nothing to do with technology, they wrote. The authors propose using a minimal set of standards while removing other barriers to IT use and developing clear policies to guide health IT design.
In a perspective response to the article, officials responded that ONCHITs actions have led to progress in IT adoption, awareness and policy development. A multifaceted health IT plan is in place, with a wide range of activities under way, wrote Robert Kolodner, national coordinator at ONCHIT; Simon Cohn, associate executive director of the Permanente Federation; and Charles Friedman, deputy national coordinator for health IT.