Kolodner: Health IT is not a magic bullet; needs help and personal perspective

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ORLANDO–Robert M. Kolodner, MD, national coordinator, Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, stressed the importance of enabling quality improvement across the healthcare continuum through the dynamics of the provider/payor relationship during his opening address today of the HIMSS 2008 Payor Symposium at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

“The perspective you should take during the course of today’s dialog is that of the recipient,” he said. “This is about us, this is about you—it really is personal and so I encourage you to not lose that perspective and ask yourselves what quality of health do you want and deserve? What quality and value of healthcare services do you demand?

Kolodner said he hoped today’s educational sessions would stimulate dialog about how health IT enables quality and brings everyone together. “What are the roles and responsibilities of those involved,” he said. “How can we create a more information-rich, consumer-centric system, and better healthcare, by bridging the quality improvement movement within the national framework for healthcare IT?

The future of healthcare is the delivery of care—better health (prevention rather than responding after onset of a chronic condition), coordinated care (barriers to care at multiple sites eliminated), convenient care (widespread telecare and telemonitoring) and increased self care, he said.

“This transformation centers on the individual,” Kolodner said. “The healthcare delivery systems that get this, that understand this, will be what we migrate to, for the ability to enable choice for the recipient.”

 “My point is that [a transformation] can be done in healthcare, and the only way to succeed is to work together to figure out what we need to do to improve quality care and the healthcare continuum,” he said.

Key health IT components to enable this transformation are: EHRs, PHRs, public health information, data, security, and technical standards, and an interoperable health information exchange, he added.

“These components enable a transformation into a robust, interoperable health IT environment,” he said “but it’s not a magic bullet—other things need to be connecting the system.” Kolodner said that payors and providers need to measure and publish quality, measure and publish price, and create positive incentives to enable the transformation.

“We are moving toward the health IT tipping point because the things we are doing now are laying the foundation for results we can expect to see in 2009 or 2010,” he said.
“This is personal, and it is real—you must look at how health IT can enable such a transformation,” he said. “While [health IT] is necessary, it not sufficient for improving quality and resolving the U.S. healthcare crisis alone—it is not a magic bullet, but it will help.”

“Change is imminent,” he added. “Progress is being made and you can play a role for we need to do better—we can do better.”