Health IT Industry, Heal Thyself

No one would use an e-mail provider that is slower than the U.S. Postal Service. A television remote control that required more effort to use than getting off the couch to manually change channels also would be a nonstarter. So is it any wonder that the uptake of health information technology has been painfully slow?

No one would use an e-mail provider that is slower than the U.S. Postal Service. A television remote control that required more effort to use than getting off the couch to manually change channels also would be a nonstarter. So is it any wonder that the uptake of health information technology has been painfully slow?

"Automation has had the ironic effect of slowing physicians down and making them less productive," writes Paul Brient, chief executive of PatientKeeper, in Forbes.

To date, none of the three major components of meaningful use--electronic medical records, computerized physician order entry, and data shared through health information exchanges--has achieved more than 10 percent adoption. Doctors' stubbornness is frequently cited as the culprit.

The fact that 99 percent of the country's doctors have used their own money to purchase and install computer systems to streamline office business functions belies the notion that health care providers are somehow constitutionally averse to using IT. They embrace what works. Too often, though, clinical health IT "solutions" don't solve anything. Worse, they fail the imperative that is the bedrock of health care: First, do no harm.

Brient is optimistic that makers of health IT finally get it.

"Our challenge in the health care IT industry is to change," he writes. "Given the renewed focus on this and the increasing understanding that [the] solution lies as much with changing the technology as changing physician behavior, the next decade looks like it will produce a much greater level of physician use of information technology than the past three."

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