As HIMSS joins with partners around the country to recognize National Health IT Week, we have challenged all the participants to answer the question, “What is the value of health IT?” Whether in events in their communities or around the blogosphere, all stakeholders have a role to play in articulating the value IT is playing in the positive transformation of the health system in our nation.
For those of us within the health community, the answer to the question seems obvious – appropriate use of IT leads to better outcomes for patients, greater access to care, a healthier population, and care that is more cost-effective. While many outside of our particular niche in the health sector think that – on the surface – such statements seem reasonable, they want to see the proof.
Our response to these inquiries is the Health IT Value Suite, a robust library of value-focused, evidence-based use cases documenting the value of health IT. As the library continues to grow, we are aggregating and analyzing data for patterns of success in the use of IT. Already, using the evidence in more than 700 use cases, we’ve quantified IT’s value in the health sector. We call these the ValueSTEPS™:
- Electronic Information/Data
- Prevention and Patient Education
Now that we have established how to measure value, we are expanding our ability to equip clinicians, hospitals, health systems, public health officials, payers, patients, and others to adopt the right IT and implementing it to greatest effect.
The good news is that we are certainly trending in that direction. CMS reports that more than 85 percent of eligible hospitals are participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, and more than 75 percent have received incentive payments for meaningfully using EHR technology as of March 2013. To top it off, between 2008 and 2012, the number of hospitals using EHR systems with certain advanced functionalities that go beyond the requirements of Meaningful Use Stage 1 more than quadrupled from 9.4 percent to 45 percent. That means that – since May 2011 when the first Meaningful Use payment was made – we’ve gone from 499 hospitals in the United States whose use of IT was beyond Stage 1’s requirements to 2,469 hospitals today. Today, there are only 206 hospitals left in the United States that have only installed the most basic systems – lab, radiology, and pharmacy.
As identified in the Value Suite, Hawai’i Pacific Health, a 2012 Organizational HIMSS Davies Award winner, enabled every aspect of clinical improvement with health IT. Information from the EHR facilitated creation of electronic dashboards, health maintenance alerts, best practice alerts, and disease registries. In addition,
- Newly built EHR work queues ensured collaboration between quality management and medical records for resolving questions around any measure on clinical documentation;
- A relational clinical database ensured rapid reporting and flexibility; and
- The clinical surveillance system, installed separately from but tightly integrated to the EHR, eliminated the need for manual data entry.
Empowered patients also used the system’s web portal to view laboratory results, educational materials, appointment scheduling, and health maintenance reminders. The portal also supports communication between patients and their healthcare providers through their home computers or smart phones. As a result,
- The online patient partnership ensured shared responsibility for outcomes, driving results even more; and
- More than 25,000 patients now regularly communicate through this portal, averaging 650 logons per day.
There’s certainly power in numbers. Every time we add a use case to the Value Suite, it expands our potential to tell the story of the value IT brings to the health of our nation’s residents. By demonstrating this power, to individuals who make the tough decisions about how to invest finite dollars into solutions that really do, in fact, solve problems and open up new opportunities, HIMSS can equip all to understand how IT can be optimally leveraged. Using IT appropriately and securely is in the best interest of all involved, both from a clinical outcome and bottom line perspective.
We know the value is there, and as National Health IT Week 2013 comes and goes, we are excited to find the examples that happen every single day.