First a really interesting report:
Think tank finds complex benefits and risks in health IT
HHS' push for digital records provides benefits but also creates new problems
Apr 01, 2010
Installing health information technology systems in a doctor’s office or hospital provides capabilities that are not well understood and offers a complex array of potential benefits and cost savings, according to a new think tank report.
“Although many proponents discuss the perceived benefits of health IT, missing from the debate is an honest discussion of experiences with actual HIT systems, and the obstacles and pitfalls of poorly designed systems,” states the study from the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan think tank based in Dallas. The report was released today.
For example, although many digital record systems may prevent common errors, they also have the potential to introduce new and serious errors. They also can increase exposure to privacy and security risks, the report said.
On the other hand, the systems can improve communication and collaboration and speed the scheduling and delivery of tests and treatments, the report said, adding that they also can improve access to care by using IT and mobile devices to remotely deliver care.
This report was produced by a slightly ‘to the right’ think tank but does provide a useful set of views and a pretty comprehensive reference list. Well worth a download.
Also of even more interest is the following announcement:
SHARP: Confronting IT Challenges Head-on and Investing in the Future of Health Care
Getting health IT “right” is difficult. Thousands of brilliant, creative and industrious people around the world have been working for several decades to realize the vision of making the technology a companion to care providers and patients, helping them make better decisions in support of better health. A scientific field of biomedical and health informatics has evolved around these efforts. Although great progress has been made, great challenges remain. While the health IT of today is largely equal to the task of supporting meaningful use as envisioned for 2011, current technology will be challenged by the more ambitious meaningful use visions of 2013, 2015, and beyond. Ongoing research and innovation will address these challenges
To that end, we announced in December the Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects (SHARP) program, as part of our HITECH initiatives. We identified four areas where breakthroughs are required: health IT security, patient-centered cognitive support of clinicians, innovative application and network-platform architectures, and secondary use of EHR data that maintains privacy and security. We invited the public and private sectors to propose collaborative research programs with the goal of developing “breakthrough” innovations. We further challenged applicants to bring the best minds in the country to bear on these key problems.
The response to our call was extraordinary in quality and quantity. The resulting competition was very keen. Today, after careful objective review, we awarded these very significant grants to four leading research institutions that submitted the most outstanding applications: Mayo Clinic of Medicine (for secondary use), Harvard University (for platform architectures), the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (for cognitive support), and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (for security). All four projects will develop innovative solutions that will find their way into working systems in two years, while also exploring more fundamental problems that require longer term study.
As an informatics researcher and, formerly, a software developer, I am fully aware of how much we are expecting of these four projects. At the same time, I am fully confident that all four awardees are equal to our ambitions for SHARP, and that over the coming years, we will see from these centers breakthrough innovation and published research that will stimulate equally creative work by others.
The blog entry is found here:
This post reveals very clearly that when you have a plan and some serious commitment you not only worry about the ‘here and now’ you also put in train the research and development to position for the future.
With these sort of funds it is clear this is exactly what the US is doing. It is also clear we are not. NEHTA and DoHA would not know how to even start tackling these sorts of issues and sadly, as I type, we don’t have enough the basic infrastructure (staff, skills, relevant grants and expertise) around the country to even have a chance. Worse with this type of effort being begun over there, watch for the brain drain! I am glad the US is now starting to do some of the serious heavy lifting.
Sad that we will again slip behind I fear!