“Data moves at the speed of trust”–RWJF report

The report issued today by the influential Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), ‘Data for Health: Learning What Works’ advocates a fresh approach to health data through greater education on the value/importance of sharing PHI, improved security and privacy safeguards and investing in community data infrastructure. If the above quote and the first two items sound contradictory, perhaps they are, but current ‘strict’ privacy regulations (that’s you, HIPAA), data siloing and the current state of the art in security aren’t stemming Hackermania (or sheer bad data hygiene and security procedures). Based on three key themes, the RWJF is recommending a suite of actions (see below) to build what they term a ‘Culture of Health. All of which, from the 10,000 foot view, seem achievable. The need–and importantly, the perception of need–to integrate the rising quantity of data from all these devices, pry it out of its silos (elaborated upon earlier this week in ‘Set that disease data free!), analyze it and make it meaningful plus shareable to people and their doctors/clinicians keeps building. (‘Meaningful’ here is not to be confused with the HITECH Act’s Meaningful Use.)

But who will take the lead? Who will do the work? Will the HIT structure, infrastructure and very importantly, the legal framework follow? We wonder if there is enough demand and bandwidth in the current challenged system. Release. RWJF ‘Data for Health’ page with links to study PDF, executive summary which adds details to the recommendations below, more.click to enlarge

EHRs: now safety, info exchange concerns (US, AU, CA)

What’s this? EHRs reducing, not increasing, safety? Reports from both the US and Australia seem to indicate another spanner (US: wrench) in the EHR works, aside from the laggardness in achieving the HITECH Act’s goals [TTA 27 Mar].

  • The Joint Commission, which is the chief US accreditation and certification body for healthcare organizations and programs, and thus to be taken very VERY seriously, released a Sentinel Event (Patient Safety Event) Alert yesterday. It warned of EHR-related adverse events affecting patient health, resulting from incorrect or miscommunicated information entered into EHRs. Interfaces built into the technology can contribute and studies have documented mixed results in the systems’ ability to detect and prevent errors. It identifies eight key factors,led by human-computer interface, workflow and communication and clinical content, that can lead to a sentinel event and three major remedy actions. While the JC does take pains to confirm the positive effects of well-designed and appropriately used EHRs, with strong clinical processes in place, it is the first ‘red flag’ this Editor can recall (more…)

Another go at a joint DOD-VA EHR? (US)

As this Editor was Pondering the Squandering last week of $28 billion HITECH Act funds meant to achieve EHR interoperability but falling well short, we recalled another Big EHR Squander: the integration of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) AHLTA with the Veteran Affairs’ VistA, an iEHR effort which collapsed in February 2013 at a mere $1 billion, in addition to dysfunctional or failed upgrades in both systems at just under $4 billion [TTA 27 July 13]. For civilians, this may not sound like much for concern, but for active duty, Reserve and National Guard service members transitioning from active to civilian status (and back as they are activated), often with complicated medical histories, it means a great deal.

At least one Congressman who also happens to be a physician, Representative Phil Roe, MD (R-TN) wants to try, try again. According to Politico’s Morning eHealth of last Wednesday, his bill will offer “a $50 million prize to the creator of an integrated military-veteran medical records system.” plus another $25 million over five years to operate it. DOD is moving forward with an $11 billion bid for a new EHR, but Rep. Roe’s staff issued a statement that differs with the DOD’s–that the new EHR still has no provision for secure and relatively seamless interoperability with the VA system to streamline the transfer of claims. We wish the best to Rep. Roe, and hope he can overcome Congressional inertia and two huge bureaucracies amidst doubts on the DOD’s EHR award process. FierceEMR on Roe bill, award process and adoption concerns by GAO and others. Also Anne Zieger in Healthcare Dive, iHealthBeat.