Another national Health IT Week is upon us, and with no immediately apparent need to send flowers, chocolates or baked goods to some worthy recipient, I am left to simply reflect on the rather remarkable state we find ourselves in as an industry and as healthcare IT professionals. Starting today and for the next four days I’ll take a moment to opine on the state of the industry and why I think there’s never been a more promising time for health IT to transform our healthcare system, or a more exciting time to be a health IT professional.
Despite lots of grousing and some inevitable bumps along the way, HITECH is largely a success in serving as a catalyst for the widespread adoption of electronic health records among providers. Health and Human Services recently announced that more than 50% of physicians and 80% of hospitals will be using an EHR by the end of 2013 — up from just 17% and 9%, respectively, in 2008. So after decades of being relegated to making due with claims data as the principle fodder for analytics, we are beginning to experience the dawning of a new age of healthcare analytics and predictive modeling with rich clinically relevant data as the raw material to feed our analytics appetite.
Meaningful Use Stage I has been a masterful first increment in beginning the culture shift necessary for healthcare providers to begin to appreciate both the value of reliable, trustworthy data, as well as understand that useful, high-quality data is the result of an end-to-end process that begins with data entry in the application and ends with useful analytics, reports, and other data products. This is not to say that technical missteps along the way don’t have a role in adversely impacting data quality, but by far the most pervasive challenges are in how the data is captured at the point of care or data entry. This shift in awareness is a critical step in moving beyond simple compliance with Meaningful Use data requirements, and instead looking at data as an enterprise asset where the business and clinical sides of the business are held accountable for the quality of the asset, rather than IT.
Tomorrow we’ll look at how analytics and predictive modeling is poised to unlock the potential of all this data to transform healthcare.