National Health IT Week comes but once a year—and it always brings fruitful and compelling discussions along with it. Since I wasn’t able to be in Washington D.C. myself, this post will share insight on the event from AT&T’s resident mHealth guru, Eleanor Chye. Eleanor leads a team focused on the mHealth and pharmaceutical space, bringing enterprise solutions from concept to market.
New opportunities in health care
The last few weeks have been newsworthy for health care. On Sept. 6, the Institute of Medicine reported that the U.S. wastes $750 billion (30% of national healthcare spend) on unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs, and fraud and missed prevention. This week also marks the seventh annual National Health IT Week on Capitol Hill.
While at first glance, these items appear separate, they are in fact related. At the Tech Showcase held as a part of National Health IT week, the conversation centered around the significant gains made in health IT adoption – rising from a mere 1 percent of physicians using Electronic Health Records (EMRs) in 2006 when the Office of National Coordinator (ONC) was first formed, to an impressive 56 percent today.
One of the speakers at the showcase noted that while the issue of waste in healthcare spend is bad news, the good news is that we now have proven tools to tackle that waste. We intuitively know that health IT, starting with EMR adoption, has the promise of enabling improved outcomes and lowered costs. We know that electronization of medical records can help reduce redundant procedures and tests and improve care coordination among clinical professionals.
The move toward mobile
But health IT solutions aren’t just about making things better for clinical professionals. It was pointed out at the event that we need to now make this technology meaningful for the individual—the patient. The goal of health IT should be to create continuity of care, extending from the hospital and clinic to the personal daily routines of the healthcare consumer.
Ultimately, we need to empower and enable individuals with the tools they need to manage their care outcomes and make informed care decisions. This is where mobile patient engagement comes in. Mobile solutions delivered across applications and connected devices, can help individuals across the entire spectrum — from those who are currently well to those who may not be — make the right daily choices and engage in behavioral changes to take control and improve their health.