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Editor's e-Note
Health care IT has become essential for delivering care, but how many organizations are getting the most out of it? A recent paper looks at policy changes that can improve health care delivery and patient access to medical records. Read on to find out what can be done to improve health IT.

— Dave Yeager, editor
e-News Exclusive
How to ‘Cross the Health IT Chasm’

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) recently held a briefing on Capitol Hill to unveil the findings and recommendations from a new paper, detailing ways that policymakers should focus on liberating data for patients, improving interoperability for clinicians, and enhancing the capacity for research and innovation to impact patient care. The paper, “Crossing the Health IT Chasm: Considerations and Policy Recommendations to Overcome Current Challenges and Enable Value-based Care,” is published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association in tandem with the briefing.

Over the last five years, the US health care system has made a digital transformation faster than any other industry in modern times. However, today’s health IT infrastructure remains largely a collection of systems unable to deliver on promised benefits. “Crossing the Health IT Chasm” looks at our current health care landscape through the lenses of a patient, a provider, and the research and innovation community. It includes 17 policy recommendations to help health IT better support a value-based system of health, care, and research.

Paper authors developed a vignette to illustrate the demands on health IT from multiple points of view, focusing recommendations to address key gaps between the idealized and current experience for these three perspectives. The vignette envisions a not-too-distant future where patients access and transmit medical records from previous providers to new ones or providers can prescribe the use of mobile health applications to help patients control their conditions. The vignette also demonstrates how health IT makes clinical documentation simpler and identifying potential patients for a clinical trial easier. These scenarios are possible using today’s health IT, but they are far from commonplace.

Specific policies are needed to accomplish the following:
  • enable better patient access to data in a computable format;
  • improve interoperability in a context of application programming interfaces (APIs);
  • simplify clinical documentation for reimbursement and quality measurement;
  • more readily engage patients in research; and
  • foster an ecosystem of safe, effective, and secure health applications. 
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