Mind to Market

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Health IT Summit

The Summer Health IT Summit was held in Denver this week drawing an energetic group of health IT decision makers from across the country. The topic of the conference was the Adoption and Implementation of the Meaningful Use Rule. The presentations ran the gamut from how to get started with installing an EHR system to integrating clinical and research databases in a research hospital. The crowd was evenly split between hospitals/providers and vendors with a few consultants thrown in.

Two points that were brought up repeatedly were the requirements for interoperability and for privacy and security. It was not clear that participants had a good handle on either of the concepts although Lynn Vogel, CIO of MD Anderson, made the claim that interoperability is one of the most overused words in healthcare. Although implementation strategies were in short supply, participants seemed to be looking to the Federal Advisory Committees, the HIT Policy Committee and HIT Standards Committee, for guidance.

There was an interesting distinction that was drawn between public and private Health Information Exchanges (HIE). With the advent of the HITECH Act, much of the focus has been on public HIEs which would connect hospitals and providers to state and federal networks. Private HIEs are being developed to network hospitals within a single IDN, a hospital to its providers, or hospitals using the same EHR vendor (re: Epic). Although the business model for public HIEs is unproven, and past failures abound, private HIEs have shown to have a valid business model and show compelling ROI.

There were several participants that voiced some displeasure at the top down approach handed down by the government. As with any top down, broad based approach, the unintended consequences of these rules cannot be known at the outset. A bottom up approach to solving the health IT problems may be preferred by hospitals because they may feel that they will get the results that are most valuable to them. Hospitals have had ample opportunity to solve these problems and most have not availed themselves of that opportunity, so, like it or not, the Meaningful Use Rules must now be complied with.

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