I recently interviewed former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson about her views on health information technology (IT). She described her vision of an ideal IT solution, and what it should be able to do for physicians and patients. For the full interview, please check out my post at Medpolitics.com
Dr. Val: What would the ideal IT system look like?
Ms. Johnson: It would offer continuously updated evidence-based guidelines at the point of care for physicians. It would give patients clear information about what they should expect. It would enable physician social networks to promote learning and experience sharing with one another. It would promote continuous improvement of care practices, and track outcomes and results to continue refining healthcare delivery. Patients should be given check lists and preventive health guidelines, and be asked to provide feedback on any complications or unanticipated events.
If we could aggregrate deidentified patient information we would gain powerful insight into adverse drug events (or unanticipated positive effects) at the very earliest stages. It could be useful in identifying and monitoring epidemics or even terrorist incidents. This could advance medical science faster than ever before. Until we have all this information at our finger tips, we can’t imagine all the potential applications.
Dr. Val: Are you describing a centralized, national EMR?
Ms. Johnson: Not necessarily. But if systems are interoperable, it could function as one. I imagine it as a series of banks run by local administrators, but with the capability of sharing certain deidentified data with one another.
Dr. Val: Do you think the government should design this information system?
Ms. Johnson: No. You don’t want the government doing it alone. As much as I love the government and have been working in it for decades, it’s simply not good at updating and modernizing systems. You have to have a public-private partnership in this. The government should be involved to protect the public interest, and the private sector should be involved so that the system can be innovative, nimble, and easily updated.
Technology will bring us extraordinary new capabilities to manage our health, prevent illness, minimize the impact of disease on our lives, improve the ability of physicians to evaluate our state of health, allow us to integrate advances in medicine in a timely fashion, and quantify the impact of new inventions and procedures. All this, and IT will help us to promote prevention and control costs associated with acute care.
We have a high quality system now, but because it’s so disorganized, the patient doesn’t receive the quality they should. The incredible advances in technology that we have created should be available to all who need it. Unfortunately that’s not the case now.
If you look at Canada’s use of the specialist and specialist equipment along the US’s border with Canada, it says a lot about government run healthcare.