The Road….Blocks Ahead for Health IT

photo_Stephanie-Sullivan_New_65x85by Stephanie Sullivan, Consultant

In 2005 the rapid adoption of health IT products and solutions was projected to save the United States more than $81 billion dollars annually according to a team of RAND Corporation researchers. However, the latest data from a 2012 follow-up Rand analysis published in the journal Health Affairs suggests that annual health care expenditures have ballooned by $800 billion to $2.8 trillion. So have innovative health IT products and solutions helped to offset growing health care costs? According to researchers…sort of. There are several reasons contributing to why there has been a stunted return on investment with health technology, including:

  • Sluggish adoption of health IT systems
  • Systems that are neither interoperable nor easy to use
  • Failure of health care providers and institutions to re-engineer care processes to reap the full benefits of health IT

Rand researchers “believe that the original promise of health IT can be met if the systems are redesigned to address these flaws by creating more-standardized systems that are easier to use, are truly interoperable, and afford patients more access to and control over their health data.”

An increase in health IT awareness and innovation could also contribute to a more widespread consumer use of electronic health-related tools, according to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center. The report cites a lack of internet connectivity, low health literacy, and unmet technical or information support needs, as well as the lack of current usefulness and usability of many of these tools and concerns about privacy and security.  One suggestion made by the report to combat these issues was an increase in federal and state incentives to speed the adoption of electronic tools and increase consumer engagement to improve healthcare.

Federal agencies and technology companies need to continue to communicate pain points and address health IT roadblocks to spur longterm cost savings, and improve patient care.

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