Panel: Health IT adoption starts at the local level

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicted that the healthcare industry will be positively transformed by technology during a recent Nashville Healthcare Council panel discussion on the future and current state of health IT.

The lunchtime panel, which attracted more than 450 persons to the Nashville Downtown Hilton, according to tthe Nashville Healthcare Council, was moderated by Brad Perkins, MD, executive vice president for strategy and innovation and chief transformation officer, Vanguard Health Systems.

Ballmer was joined by fellow industry leaders to discuss technology-enabled advancements in healthcare, business opportunities, “games changers” in the industry and adoption as a result of federal health IT incentives and stimulus funds. Ballmer was joined by:

  • Harry Greenspun, MD, CMO, Dell Perot Systems;
  • George Lazenby, CEO, Emdeon; and
  • Glen Tullman, CEO, Allscripts.

"Many people have commented that healthcare is a cottage industry and it's local," said Tullman. "Therefore, the ability to transform starts locally. Just imagine if every physician in Nashville was connected and every patient required their physician to get off paper and start to use automated systems to write and transfer their position. That's the beginning of change."

According to the council, panelists said change must be made incrementally even though transformation of the U.S. healthcare system promises to be rapid, especially in the wake of federal stimulus dollars.

“I’m optimistic that the advances we’ve made will actually help our platforms to enable innovation and transformation in the industry,” said Ballmer.

Community can make a big impact on how healthcare is delivered and spurs innovation in terms of investment and driving improvements, said Greenspun. "The more we can push this industry to innovate and, in many cases, just catch up with what other industries are doing in terms of flow information could have a real big impact."

“Nashville continues to be a leader in health IT policy and implementation,” said Nashville Health Care Council President Caroline Young. The metropolitan government of Nashville & Davidson County is in the process of acquiring $9 million in ARRA grants for public health, according to the local government's Web site.