Report: Some health insurance companies promoting health IT

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Many health insurers think health IT is a good thing, and are pushing the use of clinical IT systems which can boost patient care and bring down costs, according to a new report by the group American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) titled "Innovations in Health Information Technology."
   
The AHIP report does not directly evaluate the benefits of full IT initiatives, but does include portions in the areas of electronic prescriptions, decision-support tools and electronic health records (EHRs). The report notes that IT programs in general are providing noticeable benefits for patients and employees.

"Advances in information technology can help ensure that the best of the U.S. healthcare systems will also be its norm," said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO, AHIP, in comments on the report.
   
Interestingly, the report highlights one effort by Blue Shield of California through which physicians can bill for talking to patients via secured email communication. Though, as the report notes, most health insurers have not jumped on board for that one.

Through the Blue Shield program, there has been a noted reduction in costs and patient no shows, and it has been viewed favorably by patients and physicians who participated. Blue Shield of California hopes to extend email communication benefits to all of its members, upon further review of the effort.