Phil Present, COO of the Healthcare IT Subsidiary of Quest Diagnostics.
Recap of My Panel Remarks on Capitol Hill – April 13
Last week, I attended a panel discussion organized by eHealth Initiative to address congressional staff members from the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. It was quite impressive to walk through the halls of House and Senate offices, and in particular to walk through the first floor of the Library of Congress and see the original Gutenberg Bible.
In the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, two monumental Bibles face each other as if in dialogue: one, the Giant Bible of Mainz, signifies the end of the handwritten book, and the other, the Gutenberg Bible, marks the beginning of the printed book and the explosion of knowledge and creativity that milestone would inspire.
The briefing on Capitol Hill was an opportunity for a panel of experts in the healthcare industry to educate attendees on the current state of Health Information Technology (HIT) and Health Information Exchange (HIE), and in particular to highlight the critical issues that need to be overcome to enable its broader adoption and usage.
The panelists and my remarks shared a common theme, to advance the exchange of information and the adoption of innovative technology to support the “Triple Aim”–- improve patient outcomes, dramatically improve the quality of care for our entire population and ensure overall healthcare cost reduction.
The panel and topics covered included:
Eva Powell, Director, HIT Projects, National Partnership for Women and Families
Ms. Powell highlighted HIT’s critical function to supporting care coordination, Meaningful Use and discussed the areas of improvement necessary for HIT to fulfill its strategic goals in healthcare.
Allison Viola, Senior Director, Federal Relations, AHIMA
Ms. Viola stressed the importance of developing common vocabularies, definitions and standards to support the “Triple Aim”.
William Underwood, Senior Associate, Center for Practice Improvement & Innovation, ACP
Mr. Underwood shared the benefits of electronic health records (EHRs) to the physician. Specifically, he discussed how an EHR facilitates physician workflow, allows the physician access to important patient data and to segment their patients. He also highlighted the role an HIT can play in improving care and stressed concerns about the pace of moving forward with adoption, including challenges with implementing some Meaningful Use measures–-particularly across specialties.
James Murray, Vice President, Information Technology, CVS Caremark
Mr. Murray gave an overview of the CVS “Minute Clinics”. He stressed the importance of HIT in medication management and the role of CVS –- because of its national store footprint –-with coordination of care between physician and patient.
Chris Boone, Director, Outpatient Quality and Health IT, American Heart Association
Mr. Boone discussed leveraging EHRs for patient connectivity, and specifically the role of mobile devices in data exchange for greater patient engagement and empowerment.
My remarks affirmed our commitment to leading the industry in the areas of technology adoption by Primary Care Physicians. We think that in order for the industry to impact patient outcomes, decrease inefficiencies and dramatically lower costs, Primary Care physicians are a critical focal point. These physicians are typically the care coordinators for chronically ill patients, and they must have access to the most comprehensive, real time clinical information to provide the best possible quality of care. Accordingly, adoption and utilization of EHRs by these physicians is fundamental to effective population management and improved care outcomes.
However, without a more aggressive approach to ensuring that all physicians have the benefits of clinical histories, data exchange and analytical tools, our basic objectives of quality care and cost reduction will not be achieved. A significant number of small physician practices have not adopted any type of electronic medical record system given the complexities, cost and confusion of implementing these solutions.
Quest Diagnostics and its healthcare IT subsidiary (MedPlus) have championed the value of a robust healthcare exchange for a number of years, and continue to maintain its relevance for helping drive down healthcare costs and improve the coordination of care. We are one of the largest clinical data repositories in the country, providing electronic connectivity for laboratory services, electronic prescribing, EHRs and data exchange via our Care360 network of more than 200,000 physicians in 80,000 offices across the U.S.
Our company has worked to identify avenues of funding in order to drive broader engagement, signified most recently by the announcement of our Care360 EHR Grant Program to subsidize 85% of the fair market value of our EHR and Practice Management Solution (PMS) licenses, as well as related professional services of implementation, training and hosting via the Care 360 EHR donation program to providers practicing in underserved patient communities.
All panel representatives are committed to healthcare education and the value of sharing patient information among care coordinators across the network. The key is to recognize both the opportunities and challenges in this initiative, and continue to work together toward a united vision that technology will improve healthcare in the U.S. by continuing to partner across health systems, industry specialties and communities.
Through this panel that eHealth Initiative brought together, more than 40 House staff members were given a deeper understanding about EHRs and the current state of interoperability among both physician and hospital settings. In my view, this topic will continue to generate interest as the debate on healthcare reform moves forward.
Quest Diagnostics remains open to future opportunities to participate in educational forums and other avenues that promote open dialogue with experts to impact policy. We’ll be sure to keep our readers up-to-date on future presentations.
We would like to hear from you on this topic. What do you think are the biggest benefits to broad adoption of EHRs? What role do you think technology should play in supporting the “Triple Aim” goals?