Implementing health information technology tools in physician offices by itself is not the solution if it only results in unconnected silos of information, Doug Henley, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said during a health IT forum sponsored by IBM Corp. and the eHealth Initiative, in Washington.
Henley, who spoke on the $19.2 billion in stimulus spending the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided to boost health IT adoption, emphasized that this was a lot of money and that implementation of IT needed to be done in a manner that would foster patient-centered care.
Using the opportunity the stimulus money has presented, IT must facilitate and inform the relationship and care between patients and primary-care physicians, he said.
The focus should specifically be on data liquidity, which would involve the electronic sharing of relevant clinical data (such as vital signs, test results and medications) to improve quality, coordination and integration of care, and avoid missed opportunities for prevention, he said.
Tools such as personal health records need to become interoperable, Henley said. Other patient-centered health IT initiatives should include the integration of personal health information into current and future digital activities, including cell phones and e-mail. He also encouraged the use of virtual visits and scheduling appointments online.
To date, at least 45% of the members of AAFP, which represent family physicians, have adopted electronic health records, Henley added.