Category Archives: Information technology

Apr 3 2013
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Electronic Health Records Interoperability: Friend or Foe

Zachary Meisel, MD, MPH, MSc, is an emergency physician, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholar, a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and a columnist on health care issues for Time.com. This is part of a series of essays, reprinted from the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics’ eMagazine, in which scholars who attended the recent AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference reflect on the experience.

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The standing-room-only crowd at the AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference’s “Life After HITECH: Health IT Policy 2.0” session was a testament to the big stakes, high emotion and dramatic clinical implications that characterize every aspect of the electronic health records debate.

The session, moderated by former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Blumenthal, was one of the liveliest of the entire conference. It impaneled current National Health Information Technology (HIT) Coordinator Farzad Mostashari along with Christine Bechtel, who sits on the Government Accountability Office’s Health IT Policy Committee, and Paul Tang, the chief innovation and technology officer at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Patient Privacy Issue

One issue was the national push for universal electronic health records (EHR) systems—a drive now fueled by HITECH Act funding but tangled in many discussions about unintended consequences. The first and most prominent has pivoted around worries related to patient privacy.

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Mar 26 2013
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Weighing the Good and Bad of OpenNotes

Anjali Gopalan, MD, is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholar in residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. This is part of a series of essays, reprinted from the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics’ eMagazine, in which scholars who attended the recent AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference reflect on the experience.

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Propelled by a highly publicized study funded by a $1.4 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, OpenNotes software has created quite a stir in the world of health care reform since 2010. Its high-profile testing paralleled the rise of the Affordable Care Act and the new emphasis that law puts on the computerization of virtually every part of medicine, including the doctor-patient relationship itself.

OpenNotes is a digital tool with which a physician takes and stores the notes of every encounter with a patient. The new aspect of OpenNotes that has drawn so much attention in the press and professional venues like the AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference is its ability to provide patients instant access to everything the doctor writes about them.

Subject of Much Debate

The question of how this new kind of doctor-patient information collaboration might ultimately affect either party remains the subject of much debate. The conference session that focused on it was entitled "Stirring It Up: Putting Patients in the Middle" and featured Tom Delbanco, MD, the Harvard Medical School professor who is leading the national OpenNotes development and implementation effort.

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Jan 29 2011
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Clinical Scholar's TIME Magazine Piece Embraces Health Information Technologies, but Warns of Unintended Consequences

Electronic medical records (EMRs) and other health information technologies (HITs) are increasingly common in America’s health care system, and the federal government has begun investing heavily in them. But in a recent article in TIME Magazine, Zachary Meisel, M.D., a member of the 2008-2010 cohort of RWJF Clinical Scholars, embraces EMRs and HITs but warns of unintended consequences of the conversion.

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