HIT: Gearing up for computerized health care

So far, the “The Huffington Post” series on health information technology has pointed out some serious problems and potential complications — including a tech industry feeding frenzy and medical errors linked to computer or data entry glitches.  

Their most recent piece focuses on the upside — improving care. And, it offers a clear-eyed overview of intended benefits and the barriers to achieving them. They also explore whether HIT will have success in managing chronic diseases where some other approaches have failed.

Many experts contend digital systems not only will help doctors cut costs, but also improve care by reducing medical errors and waste. However, critics argue that the benefits are being oversold and that the stimulus plan provides a windfall to the technology industry. Others are calling for tighter government oversight to make sure that computerized systems marketed are safe and perform as promised.

They look at “Beacon Communities” : 15 medical groups nationwide – Brewer, Maine and Providence, R.I. among them — taking part in a $220 million government program designed to show how digital records technology promotes better health care and cuts costs. Twelve of the 15 centers awarded grants—some rural and others in major cities—will focus at least partly on diabetes, a disease that is both debilitating and expensive to treat.

For more Bay State HIT news, check out this radio piece on the effort to wire three Massachusetts towns. Can Computers Save Health Care?  (Note that the$50 billion  federal investment is now down to about $27 billion. Also, click here from more HIT news on BHN, including a video interview with John Glaser, for head of IT at Partners who recently moved to Siemens.

Finally, note that the feds last week rolled out their final rules on what they want to see in subsidized HIT systems.  Video here.

Artist and activist Regina Holliday represented the patient’s point of view. She spoke about her frustration with lack of access to her late husbands records during his unsuccessful cancer treatment. She offered a key reminder :”We’re all patients in the end.”

More on Holliday and the announcement here from the Health Beat Blog.

What is striking about her story is that Holliday is not complaining that the hospital didn’t “save” her husband. She is objecting to how little information she and her husband received: “the terror of not being told what was going on.” In other words, this is less about what treatment he did or didn’t receive than it is about how he was treated. Holliday is calling for “patient-centered care” that includes the patient in the decision-making loop, giving him the information he needs to make an informed choice.

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