Reforming the American health care system is a front-burner topic for many policymakers. One main reason is the desire to extend coverage to some if not all of the more than 45 million uninsured in this country. But there is an emerging consensus that reform must also encompass ways to improve quality and value in the system, and one of the prime targets for reform is the way care is delivered. Advocates, analysts, policymakers, consumers and the business and labor communities are all looking for ways to get more value for their health care dollar – delivering better care at lower cost.
The integration of technology and health care is on the rise. Although evidence shows that telemedicine has improved access to health care and resulted in lower costs in rural and underserved areas, challenges to expansion include reimbursement policies and acceptable security measures. A new Alliance for Health Reform Toolkit, “Telemedicine: The Promise and Challenges,” addresses the effectiveness of telemedicine as a tool for communication, as well as the expected outcomes and challenges ahead.
Digital health technologies, particularly those designed to engage and empower patients, have the potential to address unmet health needs and deliver care in new, lower-cost ways. Information shared from electronic health records, the “cloud” and apps can help clinicians target conditions, measure and monitor patient outcomes, personalize treatments, and engage patients in their care. This briefing will examine innovative uses of digital health technology to engage patients and deliver care, with particular focus on high cost, high need patients.
With millions of people projected to obtain health insurance coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), access to care is expected to be an issue. Efforts to promote telehealth and telemedicine could help.
Health care providers are scrambling to find their way in the fast-paced world of technology, and the federal government is making billions of dollars available to help them do it. But while cost has traditionally been the big hurdle, the lack of a qualified workforce now poses a significant barrier, according to major surveys. This toolkit offers links to many resources. Includes a list of experts and websites. Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Electronic devices are pervasive throughout our culture. Still, they are a relatively new phenomenon in the physician’s office, even though electronic health records (EHRs) can help consumers stay connected with their care managers, monitor their health, and get reminders that it’s time to take their medicine. They can also help to better coordinate care, avoid duplication of services and eliminate medication errors.
A consumer walks down the street using a smartphone – but rather than texting a friend, calling home or checking email, she is reporting data that will inform a clinician about the status of her asthma management. Is this scenario real or fantasy? As Americans grow more and more comfortable with technology in daily life – at work, at home and at play – one wonders why personal technology isn’t more widely used in health care. Patients are frustrated that they can’t access many of their providers through email; that they have to fill out paper forms multiple times, even in the same office; and that they must endure an office visit to their provider to have their progress monitored when they can visit their relatives across the ocean through Skype.
This is the second event in a three-part series of discussions on costs, the factors driving them up and what (if anything) can be done about them. The series marks the Alliance for Health Reform’s 20th year of promoting informed and balanced discussion of health policy issues.
Strengthening Medicaid with Health Information Technology: Are Providers & States Up to the Challenge?
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, providers can receive Medicare and Medicaid payment incentives when they adopt electronic health records and demonstrate their “meaningful use.” Additionally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires states to establish a website by 2014 for Medicaid beneficiaries to electronically enroll and renew coverage. Yet many challenges remain so that health information technology (HIT) can help the Medicaid program operate more effectively.
The relationship between patients and doctors has been changing from the traditional model in which a doctor decides on a treatment course without significant patient input. In recent years, awareness of the importance of the patient’s role in managing his or her own care has been steadily growing–fed not only by such trends as the proliferation of health information on the internet and direct-to-consumer advertising, but also by the emerging science of patient-centered decision making.
Health information technology can help prevent medical errors, improve care coordination, increase access to providers in rural areas and improve the quality and value of care. At the same time, questions have been raised about the cost of implementation, personal privacy considerations and potential disruption to the business of health care, especially for providers in individual and small group practices.
Ten years ago, a landmark study on patient safety, “To Err is Human,” was released by the Institute of Medicine. Patient safety has come a long way since then. Or has it? Since 1999, we’ve seen innovations in health information technology that have the potential to greatly enhance patient safety. There is growing evidence about the role of human factors, and the impact of seamless team work, checklists and safety bundles on safety.
Consumer Choice in Health Care: How Could Reform Affect Our Choices? How Could We Make Better Choices?
The idea of choice has long been a hallmark of the American health care system. We pride ourselves in believing that we – not government bureaucrats – choose our doctors, hospitals and health plans.
Health information technology (IT) wins many honorable mentions. It is viewed by respected analysts and presidential candidates in both parties as a tool with the potential to save lives, improve efficiency and increase the overall quality of our health care delivery system.
Promoting health information technology (IT) has been a common thread in the campaigns of the 2008 presidential candidates’ health reform proposals. It is proposed as a means of achieving efficiency, improving quality and cutting costs in the delivery of health care. In addition, there is bipartisan support in both houses of Congress for expanding health IT. Yet, one bill that would do so remains stalled in the House, another in the Senate.
This toolkit, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will help you understand how health information technology (IT) is slowly changing health care, and how analysts disagree about the value of some technologies. We offer an introduction to issues such as protecting patient privacy and the cost of new technologies. This resource also offers story ideas, selected experts with contact information, selected websites of interest and a glossary.
Wider use of health information technology has been touted as one way to improve the quality of care and reduce medical errors, while reducing the continued rapid growth of health care spending. Providers across the country are already adopting new health IT systems, and many patients have welcomed the trend. Other providers say they can’t afford the large upfront costs involved, and some analysts question whether health IT will save any money at all.
Health care information about individual patients is one of the least automated aspects of the U.S. economy. Promoting greater access to secure, easily shared electronic health records for all Americans has strong support from the Administration and both parties in Congress.
The health care sector has languished behind almost all other industries in adopting information technology, which has the potential of vastly improving quality. For example, a variety of studies have found that prescribing drugs through a system known as computer physician order entry, compared with a handwritten prescription, greatly reduces the incidence of the wrong medication being prescribed or the wrong dose dispensed. There are significant barriers to the adoption of information technologies in health care. These barriers include technical and infrastructure obstacles, initial implementation costs, provider resistance, current reimbursement structures and a lack of more uniform standards that would allow products from different vendors to work together.