PFCD Panel Discussion Promotes Adoption of Health IT

November 18, 2011
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Earlier this week, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) hosted “Health Information Technology: An Invaluable Tool for Managing Chronic Diseases” at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. We were honored to have Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) keynote the briefing.

Earlier this week, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) hosted “Health Information Technology: An Invaluable Tool for Managing Chronic Diseases” at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. We were honored to have Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) keynote the briefing. Senator Whitehouse has earned a reputation for being a tireless and vocal advocate in Congress for using health information technology (IT) as a tool to improve health outcomes, to stop the spread of chronic disease and to save billions in Medicare and Medicaid programs by keeping people healthier.

PFCD’s panel discussion featured three different perspectives on how health IT is critical to promoting health and coordinating the care needed to more efficiently and cost-effectively manage communities struggling with chronic diseases. PFCD Executive Director Kenneth Thorpe moderated the panel, which included speakers from Allscripts, the Marshfield Clinic, and XLHealth.

Highlights of the panel discussion included:

  • Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) reiterated the dire need for health care reform in the United States by quoting Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his opening remarks: “Our national debt is our biggest national security threat.” With health care costs accounting for $2 trillion of our national spending, Senator Whitehouse discussed how there is a serious health information exchange problem present in the country, as care providers are left with few resources to populate medical data across care facilities. He argued that this lack of resources results in an increase in medical errors and wasted dollars spent on unnecessary procedures and missteps. Emphasizing the need for better patient care coordination and innovations in health technology to reduce costs, he’s hopeful there will be improvements in consumer technology, such as mobile apps, that will also empower patients to be more involved in their medical care.  He strongly encouraged PFCD and its partners to continue the good work they are doing to advocate for the adoption of health IT to improve health outcomes, curb the growth of chronic disease and reduce costs.
  • Douglas A. Gentile, M.D., MBA, Chief Medical Officer, Allscripts  highlighted the importance of health IT platforms such as ePrescribing and Electronic Health Records (EHRs), to create opportunities for interventions with advanced care coordination technologies. Using a patient with diabetes as an example, Gentile pointed out that it is nearly impossible for doctors to efficiently track the eleven parameters used to monitor a patient’s progress without the proper tools. According to Gentile, evidence-based guidelines are only used for treating one in every fourteen patients, but employing analytics and tracking tools like those offered by Allscripts can lead to improved overall care. Providing doctors with necessary information allows them to make more informed decisions, while being able to share this information leads to higher levels of patient engagement.
  • Kori Krueger, M.D., Assistant Medical Director of the Institute of Quality, Innovation, and Patient Safety, Marshfield Clinic spoke about the need for care providers to more consistently work with patients to deliver safe, quality care that maintains patient satisfaction levels, while also remaining cost-conscious to maximize value in the marketplace for all stakeholders. The use of EHRs has played an important role in managing chronic disease in Marshfield Clinic’s key markets by allowing for rapid, efficient collection of data for feedback and shared decision making. Krueger sees EHRs as being responsible for setting the standard in discussions about new models of care delivery such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Additionally, he discussed how the use of patient-friendly dialogue and giving patients access to their medical records via EHR systems is key to increased patient involvement and understanding.
  • Laurie Russell, RN, CCM, GCM, Vice President, Quality Strategy & Outcomes, XLHealth showcased how customized, individual care, aided by integrated data technology can drastically improve the quality of care for chronically ill seniors. To better facilitate their Care Improvement Plus program, a Medicare health plan focused on the unique needs of underserved and chronically ill beneficiaries,  XLHealth created a treatment management model involving all those associated with an individual patient’s medical care including doctors, specialists, nurses, pharmacists, and insurance providers to strengthen lines of communication. As a result, XLHealth has successfully kept their members’ medical costs below the national average through their management efforts.

About 45 people were in attendance at the briefing, representing an array of PFCD members, key Hill staff, including staff to members of the Super Committee, and a wide range of organizations in the public and private sectors. The speakers’ presentations can be found on the PFCD website and video footage will also be posted soon.