Health IT (information technology) is the area of IT involving the design, development, creation, use and maintenance of information systems for the healthcare industry. Automated and interoperable healthcare information systems are expected to lower costs, improve efficiency and reduce error, while also providing better consumer care and service.

Patients Want Providers Who Offer Health IT Capabilities

Physicians who do not work to improve electronic health information sharing could lose patients to more technology-savvy providers, according a survey commissioned by Surescripts, Health IT Interoperability reports.

The survey, conducted by Kelton Global, polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults during the first week of May (Irving, Health IT Interoperability, 9/28).


According to the survey, 55% of respondents said their medical history is incomplete or missing altogether when they visit their physician, despite the use of electronic health records.

Among other things, respondents reported that providers often lacked information about their:

  • Allergies;
  • Existing medical conditions; and
  • Prescriptions.

Paul Uhrig, chief administrative and legal officer and chief privacy officer at Surescripts, said, "The challenge is the lack of interoperability" (Reed, Washington Business Journal, 9/28).

The survey concluded that technologically advanced providers have an advantage because:

  • 57% of respondents said they want a doctor who stores medical records electronically;
  • 57% want a doctor who enables them to complete paperwork online before an appointment;
  • 54% want to receive test results online; and
  • 54% want to schedule appointments online (Health IT Interoperability, 9/28).

Further, the survey found that:

  • 46% of respondents said they are more comfortable asking their provider questions via email or text, rather than just by phone; and
  • 43% said they would contact their provider more often if they could do so via text and email.

According to the survey, 70% of respondents said that doctors who use computers or tablets instead of paper during visits are organized and efficient. The majority of patients also said they were comforted, relieved and confident when their provider made administration tasks -- such as appointment scheduling -- digital.

Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton in a statement said, "Dangerous voids in health information sharing can easily be solved through the use of digital communications and technology" (Pai, MobiHealthNews, 9/28).

Source: iHealthBeat, Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Usability, Accessibility and Telehealth

A while ago there were two healthcare conferences that we attended here in Washington DC on the same day. One was the American Telehealth Association’s Fall forum and the other was The Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR)’s Accessibility and Usability in Health Information Technology (HIT)

Crash test dummies and The Usability of Electronic Health Records

The big business interests of the Healthcare industry cried wolf (and lobbied hard)

against the meaningful use (now called “Promoting Interoperability”) program and enhancements to the usability requirements. Perhaps because they don’t want to spend the extra time and money to provide a healthcare system that truly follows a safety-enhanced design philosophy.

New Hampshire Price Transparency Website Could Be Model for Other States

New Hampshire's creation of a price transparency website for health care services suggests publishing payment rates can affect negotiations between insurers and providers, Modern Healthcare reports.


New Hampshire's HealthCost website uses information from the state's all-payer claims database -- the Comprehensive Health Care Information System -- to provide consumers with estimates of insurer and out-of-pocket costs for health care services.

The website, which launched in February 2007, aims to define the real prices of health care services. In the last quarter, about 2,800 individuals visited the website.  

Earlier this month, New Hampshire earned the only "A" grade in the Catalyst for Payment Reform and Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute's annual report card highlighting state transparency efforts.

Results From N.H. Initiative

Although NH HealthCost was designed for consumers, insurers and providers have an especially critical stake in the initiative. 

According to Modern Healthcare, New Hampshire's price transparency initiative has spurred new models for insurance plan benefits, prompting consumers to seek out lower-cost care settings and hospitals to provide patients with more affordable care settings. HealthCost also has driven insurers to offer incentives to members who choose lower-cost care sites, such as an ambulatory surgery center instead of a facility within a hospital.

A 2014 study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research found the price transparency initiative is at least partly responsible for health plan designs in New Hampshire to develop faster than those in other areas of the U.S., and has forced several high-cost providers to lower their rates.

Critics note that New Hampshire's initiative is limited by a lack of competition among hospitals in the state. However, as more states seek to increase pricing transparency, New Hampshire's effort is being seen as a model (Kutscher, Modern Healthcare, 7/18).

Source: iHealthBeat, Tuesday, July 21, 2015