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POLICY: Harris finds that the nation’s health leaders are mostly out of ideas

Harris Interactive is out with a survey of the people attending a recent health care conference in DC which was attended by a who’s who of health care notables. Unsurprisingly, there don’t seem to be too many new ideas.

Forty percent of respondents believe a combination of IT, practice guidelines and patient safety measures is both an effective and desirable way of containing health care costs. Furthermore, 27 percent named disease management programs as the second most effective way to better manage costs.

When asked about the most significant opportunities that their organization can pursue during the next two years, the results again underscore the growing importance of IT in health care:

  • Forty-eight percent (48%) name greater emphasis on data-driven clinical care (including evidence-based medicine and advanced care management programs).
  • Thirty-one percent (31%) cite the development of portable, shared electronic health records.
  • Twenty-nine percent (29%) identify increasing prevalence of pay-for-performance initiatives.

With regard to the adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs), more than two-thirds (68%) of those respondents who work for hospitals, physician practices or health insurers say their organization has increased or accelerated their investments in clinical IT and EMRs and an additional 15 percent plan to make new investments soon. However, only one-third of them say they are working with other local health organizations on these initiatives.

Conversely, 38 percent say slow adoption of IT poses the most serious threat to the health care industry, closely followed by rising medical costs (37%) and the increasing number of uninsured/or under-insured (34%).

Interestingly, support for universal health insurance is relatively strong, with 49 percent of respondents in favor and 37percent opposed. However, 94 percent say such coverage is either highly unlikely or somewhat unlikely to happen during the next five years.

So we can all sing Kum-Ba-Ya over health information technology while appreciating that the problems of getting this stuff communicated between organizations are barely understood, let alone overcome. And that the disease management programs that the core of "data-driven care" are also in their infancy.

Oh and there seems to be no hope for the uninsured, and less than half of the crowd even cares.

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