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One of the reasons I love my job is regular interaction with the smart, accomplished people who are truly dedicated to making the American healthcare system better—better for providers, for payers, and most importantly, for patients.
Recently, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion on Health IT as a Policy Change Agent with three people whose passion for positive change is truly infectious: former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James Peake, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and ONC’s Deputy National Coordinator for Programs and Policy (and liaison to the HIMSS Board) Judy Murphy.
Aneesh Chopra laid out three “megatrends” he’s seeing in healthcare today:
• Increasing adoption of electronic health records
• Changes in how care is paid for, including incentives for coordinated care
• Empowerment of patients as they gain increased access to their own health data
Both Dr. Peake and Judy echoed Aneesh’s focus on the importance of engaging the patient in their own care. Jim was pleased with the success of VA’s “Blue Button” initiative, which he described as the ability for a patient to be able to download and share his or her health data in easy to read and portable format. He also pointed to how health IT can aid the more than 700,000 veterans using some form of home health services.
ONC looks to the VA for lessons learned and what works. As patients gain access to their own data, Judy noted, they’re beginning to see themselves as partners in their own health. She believes such engagement leads to healthier behaviors; wellness is not controlled externally by clinicians – it’s a coordinated effort in which the patient’s participation is pivotal.
The Beacon Communities (initiated as part of HITECH) were another dynamic addition to the discussion. Judy described ONC’s compilation of data from 17 communities served by these demonstration projects. The majority of the projects are showing how various health stakeholders, working together, are improving the health of entire communities.
“At the end of the day, our economy responds to incentives,” said Aneesh Chopra. He went on to say that new payment models are lending themselves to reward integrated care, allowing health system productivity to evolve from fee-for-service, to a value-based care delivery model where providers are incentivized for the value they deliver to patient health, rather than by the volume of treatments they provide. These changes in workforce and incentives are leading to “higher touch care” through increased outreach and follow-ups.
As Jim said: “Every physician, I’m convinced, wants to do the best for his or her patient.”
I hope you’ll find time to listen to the panel’s full discussion, which is available on demand. These thought leaders talked about the power each of us has to shape IT and health policy to impact our nation’s economic future and wellness of all Americans.
And by all means please join us to continue the conversation at next month’s Government Health IT Conference at the Ronald Reagan Building June 11-12! For federal employees, full conference registration is just $50.
What do you think of Aneesh, Jim, and Judy’s comments? Do you agree with Aneesh’s mega-trends? Judy’s assertion that having the patient at the center of care will improve it? And, tell us what you know about the use of the Blue Button in the VA and other settings. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
This article originally appeared on the HIMSS Blog.