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Control Health Data, Don't Drown in It

Jun 6, 2013, 7:26 PM, Posted by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

Data: It's a flood, and we run the danger of drowning in it. Even more unsettling, says RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, "a good portion of that flood of information is about our health, yet we have few tools to control or even decipher this most personal of data."

Writing in her latest post on the professional social networking site LinkedIn, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey suggests that all of that data should be helping us—we just need to get a handle on it.

RWJF has focused on just that goal, having funded development of tools and technologies to manage medical information since the mid-2000s, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey writes. Our latest initiative is a $120,000 contest to encourage technology developers to create the best way to help consumers make sense of a huge database of hospital prices published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey concludes:

I believe such information management projects can be as or more transformative for an individual’s well-being than a new drug or surgical technique. Hopefully, their advent means we are entering an era of high tech tools where big data, far from drowning us, will help us manage our health in ways we never could before."

Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey is one of about 300 LinkedIn Influencers.

A Big Week for Big Health Data

Jun 5, 2013, 4:30 PM, Posted by Beth Toner

Health Datapalooza Graphic

It’s been a great week to be a self-proclaimed “health data geek.” Here at the Foundation, we announced the launching of the Health Data Exploration Project at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (housed at the University of California-San Diego). The project will explore how to bring individuals and companies who collect day-to-day health data (via smart phones and other tools) together with health researchers to uncover insights into personal and population health. You can read more about this project on RWJF’s Pioneering Ideas.

We also announced the $120,000 RWJF Hospital Price Transparency Challenge, which asks applicants to create data visualizations and applications to help people compare what different hospitals charge.

Finally, a number of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation staff came together at the fourth Health Datapalooza—the annual event put together by the Health Data Consortium, of which RWJF is a founding sponsor. The conference is a forum that features the newest and most innovative and effective uses of health data by companies, startups, academics, government agencies and individuals. Want to learn more about what went on there? Feel free to read our “Dispatches From Datapalooza,” starting here.

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Electronic Health Records: Are We There Yet? What’s Taking So Long?

Jun 4, 2013, 4:48 PM, Posted by Mike Painter

A doctor seeking information on a computer, two nurses are in the background.

I am a family physician, but one who doesn’t currently practice and importantly, one who isn’t slogging day after day through health care transformation. I do not want to be presumptuous here because the doctors and other health professionals who are doing this hard work are the heroes. They are caring for patients while at the same time facing tremendous pressure to transform their life’s work.  That includes overwhelming pressure to adopt and use new information technology.

This level of change is hard, difficult and confusing—with both forward progress and slips backward. Nevertheless, doctors, take heart, because you are making progress. It may be slow at times, but it’s substantial—and it’s impressive. Thank you. 

The Annals of Internal Medicine today published a study (I was one of the authors) finding that more than 40 percent of U.S. physicians have adopted at least a basic electronic health record (EHR),  highlighting continued progress in the rate of national physician adoption of EHRs. The study, also found that a much smaller number, about 9.8 percent of physicians, are ready for meaningful use of this new technology. 

Some might say, “Wake up, folks!”   Look at those small meaningful use numbers.  Change course, now.  After all of this time and tax-payer expense, less than 10 percent of doctors are actually ready to use these important tools meaningfully. What’s up with that? 

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