Healthcare IT: A double-edged sword

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Candace Stuart - 14.49 Kb
Candace Stuart, editor

Heathcare IT continues to offer opportunities to improve patient care while adding efficiencies to the healthcare system. But several analyses show that obtaining those potential benefits remains a challenge.

The EMR is a critical tool for coordinating care provided by specialists and primary care physicians, but some requirements for meeting meaningful use thresholds are proving to be too costly for specialists to pursue. As a consequence, they may not qualify for HITECH Act incentives, Thomas C. Barber, MD, chair of a group within the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and an advocate of EMRs, said in an exclusive interview.

In another interview, physicians discussed the implications of two studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The studies highlighted the difficult balancing act of both sharing and protecting patient information.

In one survey, patients enthusiastically embraced the use of an electronic system that allowed them to access physician notes. Physicians, on the other hand, had conflicting views of the process. Some believed it would improve patient safety and satisfaction, while others voiced concerns about patients’ interpretation of the notes and about the time needed to participate in such a system. In a second survey, patients again supported sharing health information electronically with family members and physicians outside their healthcare system, but the authors noted the challenge of maintaining patient security.

Home monitoring of patients and medication IT also offer attractive methods for improving medication adherence and outcomes but each has hurdles to overcome, including the need for standards, patient feedback and follow-up strategies.

Mining healthcare IT's potential is well worth the effort, but it is never an easy task. Please feel free to share your experiences and insights by emailing me at cstuart@CardiovascularBusiness.com.

Candace Stuart
Cardiovascular Business, editor