Accelerating the Change: Experts in Health IT Convene to Discuss Future Directions

Samantha Swamy

“The health care economy is $3.2 trillion today - 18% of the gross domestic product - and is projected to grow to about 20% over the next several years,” said CVS Health executive vice president Thomas M. Moriarty at a POLITICO Live Health IT panel on Thursday, May 10 in Washington, D.C. “That 2% could be invested in education and other key things that we need as a nation, so we need to accelerate the change [in developing better care at lower prices].”

The conversation, facilitated by Politico CEO Patrick Steel was centered on the barriers to properly implementing digital health tools in doctors’ offices around the country and how best to overcome those barriers. One such hurdle is the lack of interoperability. “We need records that can follow the patient, that are intuitive to the physician, and a platform where those records can function,” said panelist Genevieve Morris, principal deputy national coordinator at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Raj Ratwani, director and scientific director at Medstar Health’s national center for human factors in healthcare, stressed that in order to have interoperability, safety and privacy conditions have to be met.“Agencies like AHRQ need to be shored up and supported so that they can help with usability and safety challenges in health data,” he added.

Sam Butler, M.D., chief medical officer at Epic, detailed how his platform was helping to achieve interoperability. “If you have two Epic customers, they have 100% connectivity,” said Dr. Butler. “Now with Carequality, even customers who don’t use Epic such as those with Veterans’ Affairs can connect to all Epic hospitals.” Satish Maripuri, executive vice president at Nuance Healthcare, described Dragon Medical, a feature that will soon be included in the new Epic platform. “Dragon Medical would enable a direct conversation with a doctor without him/her on a keyboard working on an electronic health record,” said Maripuri. “It relies on diction capture and incorporates artificial intelligence to supplement doctors.”

Health care interoperability provides patients with quality health care at lower costs. However, the government, industry, clinicians, and patients need to work together to ensure that proposed health IT solutions are meeting the needs of those who will be benefiting from their services, noted Arthur Allen, eHealth editor for POLITICO Pro. “Usability [in heath IT] is getting better, he said, but the government needs to help ensure that we are meeting people’s privacy needs and focusing on their day to day care.”

Samantha Swamy is a Communications Intern with Research!America.

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