Accelerating Electronic Information Sharing To Improve Quality And Reduce Costs In Health Care

Staff Writer | Bipartisan Policy Center | October 1, 2012

Health information technology (IT) and electronic health information sharing play critical and foundational roles in addressing the cost, quality, and access challenges of the United States health care system.

One reason that costs are high and health care quality suffers is that care is typically delivered in a fragmented delivery structure—in silos. Medicare patients see, on average, seven physicians, including five specialists, split among four different physician practices.1 Lack of care coordination results in both gaps and duplications in care and often leads to overtreatment, costing the United States between $148 and $226 billion annually.2

To deliver coordinated, accountable, patient-centered care, a clinician and other members of the care team must access information that resides in multiple settings where care and services are delivered. Health information about patients can reside in many disparate locations: in the offices of their primary care physicians and specialists, hospitals and clinics, laboratories and radiology centers, health plans, pharmacies, nursing homes, and even with patients themselves. As a result, the electronic exchange of information across the multiple entities that deliver care and services to patients is a central and foundational component of coordinated, accountable, patient-centered care.