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Health IT in the News

by athenahealth Blogmaster,

  • We held a webinar on Friday to explain accountable care organizations, or more commonly, ACOs. It was well attended, maybe because it’s a relatively new subject that really needs explaining, which is why this article from an actual doctor was a relief to find. In it, she confesses, “quite honestly, I don’t have the time to read about it right now.” That doctor may not have time to read about ACOs but NPR found someone who could crack a few jokes on the topic…
  • Lots in the headlines about Medicare these days, including a funny cartoon with a William Tell theme in the Sunday New York Times which we would share if we hadn’t run into the new paywall. Anyway, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich offers his defense of Medicare. In particular, we appreciated this passage: "America spends $30 billion a year fixing medical errors – the worst rate among advanced countries. Why? Among other reasons, because we keep patient records on computers that can’t share the data. Patient records are continuously re-written on pieces of paper, and then re-entered into different computers. That spells error."
  • There are plenty of facts to gather in this Commonwealth Fund survey of sentiments regarding the health care system.  It’s worth noting that “there is strong support among adults (88%) for doctors’ use of computerized medical records (EHR) and…more than nine of 10 adults (92%) believe it is important for doctors to be able to exchange information with other doctors electronically.”
  • Slightly off the HIT topic but still related, the United States seems to be falling behind in the use of communication technology compared to others.  Sweden comes out on top of 138 nations with Burundi and Chad at the bottom of the list.
  • The Los Angeles Times dives into an explanation of EHRs and the federal stimulus incentives with this piece. It leads off with how patients may appreciate conveniences like electronic prescription but concludes with this quote from a doctor, “You have to learn a whole new way of documenting your patient care and managing your patient interactions, and that change is difficult…You start to see a light at the end of the tunnel after about a year. Physicians have to be patient, but they will see results." That sounds about right.
  • And finally, a NYT blog dispatch from the hospital vs. small practice front: “I’m a dying breed...”
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