The Health IT Challenge


Jed Seltzer, executive director of the New Jersey Health Information Technology Commission, says when it comes to developing health information exchanges getting all the stakeholders on the same page is at least as daunting a task as solving the purely technological issues.

These exchanges are the building blocks of what will become a national system for exchanging patient data in real time between providers. Seltzer explains what he works on every day in New Jersey, “Trying to get 30,000 doctors and 73 hospitals to even think about digitizing their records and then getting them to do it in a way that is ‘meaningful use’ and then getting it interoperable. That is such a tough haul in terms of education and outreach.”

With that in mind – and with $20 billion stimulus dollars going to health IT– we were intrigued by a note we spotted over the weekend about how little the public even knows about the potential uses of health IT. This is an important question, because the public’s input is key to engaging people in the development of a “meaningful use” definition. This definition will help providers decide what technologies they should adopt and how that technology needs to be used in order to meet federal requirements and, more importantly, in order to best serve patients nationally.

Jeff Rowe, the post’s author, wrote,

In short, it seems safe to assume that while health care stakeholders and observers are more than familiar with the HIT landscape, much of the general public still is not.

While it is certainly true that stakeholders will be more informed than the general public regarding health IT, we wonder if Rowe is overestimating the level of understanding on the part of insiders. If this kind of technology follows the path of many before it, we suspect that many engaged stakeholders are still in the dark regarding its complexities, its benefits, and its risks.

We’re going to be following the development of these exchanges in the states and look forward to seeing the ways they tackle the enormous technological and managerial challenges.



One Response to “The Health IT Challenge”

  1. tjsadowski Says:

    This is an intriguing issue. As a very high user of healthcare (having a malignant brain tumor and surviving eleven years will do that to you), I have seen firsthand a lot of issues with my medical records and care. I have been fortunate that most of my care for this and other issues has been at one institution. I can only imagine how things would have been had it involved multiple entities and care providers.

    It would be interesting to see something like a set of Frequently Asked Questions to inform citizens and allow them to interact on this issue. If this issue is anything like health care reform, we know it will be easy to get sidetracked by misperceptions, bad information and emotion.

    I, for one, would welcome something that also supports outcome-based treatment so I could have more informed discussions with doctors about alternatives and risks.

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