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11 Hot Healthcare Buzzwords for 2011

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 6, 2011

With rapid changes in healthcare comes a new vocabulary with terms and phrases every provider should know.

Culled from journal articles, conferences, blogs and other media, some of these phrases might not be all that new. But it's our bet that even if you've heard some of them before, you're going to hear a lot more references to them in 2011.

1. EHR-EMR-HIT Interoperability. These acronyms are among the most important to know and understand. The concept is that EHR (electronic health records), EMR (electronic medical records), and HIT (health information technology) use technology to connect providers' and patients' data and communication online. EMR and EHR are sometimes used interchangeably but they are distinct.

EHR is a complete, long-term computerized electronic record of a patient's care culled from any and all provider settings while the EMR is the electronic replacement of a paper chart and the record of a patient's history and care generated by one particular provider.

An EHR, also connects multiple providers, such as hospitals and clinicians, laboratories, and prescription and/or pharmacy histories, test results, and care notes for a particular patient.

Also see Meaningful Use, the phrase whose definition is specified in federal regulations governing dispersal of stimulus refunds and credits to providers who achieve it with their electronic record systems.

2. Creative Destruction. The oxymoronic phrase that's derived from economic theory refers to the healthcare idea that in order to create a new healthcare system, we will have to tear down the old one, as referenced in a Nov. 11 article about accountable care organizations in the New England Journal of Medicine by Robert Kocher, MD, and Nikhil R. Sahni of the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform and the Engleberg Center for Health Care Reform.

Kocher and Sahni say that under the healthcare reform legislation "the next few years will be a period of what economists call “creative destruction”: our fragmented, fee-for-service health care delivery system will be transformed into a higher-quality, higher-productivity system with strong incentives for efficient, coordinated care.” 

3. HAIs --- Getting to Zero. This phrase also is not new to the lingo, but it is destined to become a hallway mantra in 2011, as healthcare-associated infections are about to be factored into how much hospitals receive in their reimbursement. Hospital-acquired infections are a leading cause of death, added cost, increased morbidity and length of stay. And they are often quite preventable.

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2 comments on "11 Hot Healthcare Buzzwords for 2011"


Wayne G. Fischer, PhD (1/7/2011 at 8:47 AM)
The NEJM article that mentions "creative destruction" is *not* Nov 11th - but rather Dec 30th. Unfortunately, like most who are ignorant of the basics of continual and breakthrough improvement (in quality, safety, costs - whatever...), the authors suffer from the delusion that setting (implicit) goals and redefining incentives will somehow empower *and* enable organizations to transform themselves. Alas,were that thru...

Barbara Watkins (1/6/2011 at 11:56 AM)
Cheryl: You forgot my favorite "meaningful use!" That is a huge buzz word for physicians and EHR. Barb Watkins Administrator Heart & Vascular Center of Arizona