Health information technology wont necessarily improve care and reduce costs unless theres a change in healthcare practice environments, health IT experts said during a forum sponsored by the Brookings Institution.
The forum was held to address opportunities to accelerate the adoption and integration of health IT, and how it could lead to higher quality care at lower costs.
Theres the belief that pushing more health IT into medical practices will lead to better outcomes on patient care. Yet, the evidence on the benefits of health IT have been mixed, said Mark McClellan, director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at Brookings.
An issue brief from the Engelberg Center indicates the rate of health IT adoption continues to be slow, and the actual cost savings have been less certain. Only 17% to 29% of physicians nationwide have adopted some type of electronic health record in their offices. Reasons for the lack of widespread adoption include acquisition and installation costs, and lack of interoperability standards.
Carol Diamond, managing director of health programs with the Markle Foundation, cautioned that health IT should not be viewed as a magical instrument that will transform the broken health system. Health IT is a tool, not a goal, and success should be measured on whether clinical outcomes improve, and not by the number of hospitals that adopt IT tools, she said.
Providers need better incentives to adopt IT, said Jack Lewin, chief executive officer of the American College of Cardiology. We need to figure out with the Congressional Budget Office a business case on both the private and Medicare side to get people to participate. Interoperability standards should also be developed, Lewin said.