Master of Public Administration
Velazquez, Adrian M.
Health care practitioners struggle to meet the demands of increasingly complex patient care, as well as care coordination and reporting. An integrated, electronic system is needed to input, track, store, update and share current and complete patient information in real time.
Recent federal mandates regarding health information technology and use of electronic medical record (EMR) systems are impacting virtually every inpatient and outpatient care facility. Because EMR system startup costs are high, federal incentives for implementation and use are available until 2015, when penalties will start to be imposed if full implementation isn’t complete.
While EMR systems offer a multitude of benefits to health care practitioners, the ultimate goal of EMR systems is to develop statewide and regional health information exchanges, enabling health care facilities to share data with the public health sector; in turn, both parties can gain information they would not have access to otherwise. The positive implications for population health are extensive, as large amounts of data can be used to derive information about health trends, epidemiology and other health-related population information that is not readily available today.
An effort this large predicates government involvement. The government needs to take a vested interest in the structure, implementation requirements and education required to successfully use EMR systems to their fullest potential.
In order for EMR systems to be widely usable and interoperable across an entire state, universal standards regarding health information exchanges (the way information is encoded, shared, accessed and used) must be developed. The federal government is in a unique leadership position to make this happen. Beyond making rules and laws, the government needs to enable states to develop these complex systems—by underwriting startup costs, sharing best practices, promoting stakeholder buy-in, helping states develop business plans for sustainability, and more.