Patients can encourage healthcare IT adoption, says expert

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Farzad Mostashari, the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), recently said that patients can be pivotal in the continued adoption of medical informatics systems and other healthcare IT infrastructure, reports Information Week.

Mostashari called on both patients and physicians to foster healthcare IT adoption by demanding that patient health information be made available electronically whenever clinical decisions are made.

“No investment in standards or infrastructure for information exchange will rapidly mobilize information sharing if the underlying demand for the shared information is low,” said Mostashari, as quoted by the news source. “Demand for information is the business driver for health information exchange.”

In addition to leveraging the power of connected healthcare IT systems such as medical informatics networks and health information exchanges (HIEs), Mostashari said that increased demand for information could encourage better quality of patient care, reduced clinical error, increased options for treatment and improved data security.

Mostashari has been a vocal proponent of the need for HIEs. Accompanied by other ONC personnel, Mostashari presented details of the Federal Health Information Technology Strategic Plan at a meeting of shareholders, physicians and members of the California Association of Physician Groups last week. At the presentation, Mostashari outlined the ONC’s goals for stage two of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ meaningful use federal financial incentive program, and the need for continued investment in HIE initiatives.

Although much progress has been made in terms of healthcare IT adoption during the past two years, financial concerns are still a barrier for many providers. A recent survey by Beacon Partners found that almost half of hospitals and chief information officers polled do not have a dedicated department in place to handle the implementation of an HIE.