The Golden Age Of Health Informatics?

Mark Braunstein | InformationWeek Healthcare | November 19, 2013

Despite unsolved problems, healthcare IT has made great strides.

So much attention is paid to the problems in the trenches that it is easy to forget just how far we've come in the past few years. It was only 2008 when the oft-cited DesRoches NEJM survey showed that 4 percent of physicians had a clinically active electronic medical records system (my term for what they called fully functional EMRs). The following year, even an old-timer like me was surprised when a companion survey showed only 1.5 percent of hospitals had such a system.

At the same time, we've been stuck since the 1950s in the fee-for-service paradigm with seemingly no way to extricate ourselves, even though it is clear to most that we need to base healthcare reimbursement on the same criteria that apply to other businesses: quality and efficiency. And yet here we are. Now EMRs are giving way to electronic health records (EHRs), a new generation of systems promising care coordination across practices, patient engagement, and other capabilities in keeping with a new era of outcomes-based reimbursement.