HIT Barriers to Patient Engagement Persist

Gienna Shaw, October 24, 2011

The correlation between accountable care models and healthcare information technology that connects and engages patients permeated conversations at The Center for Connected Health annual symposium in Boston last week.

As news of the final rules broke, participants weighed the importance of electronic health records in a successful ACO business model. And panelists at two sessions discussed accountable care's merits and pitfalls, touted the model's potential to make healthcare more connected and participatory, and warned that many barriers still stand in the way to patient engagement.

Midday Thursday, the first day of the conference, came word that the federal government had released final ACO regulations with major concessions to the original plan. One of the critical changes: The rule no longer requires that 50% of participating physicians be meaningful users of electronic health records.

Some at the symposium reacted to that news with a shrug.

"I don't necessarily think that's a bad idea because I can't imagine anyone [creating an accountable care organization] without an EHR," Joseph Kvedar, MD, founder and director of the Center for Connected Health, said in an interview.

"What's being required of us to be an accountable care organization is a tremendous level of coordination. And God knows we'll need many more technologies than just EMRs. That's the baseline. So in a way it makes sense for them not to have to prescribe that. If we're stupid enough to try without it, then let the chips fall where they may."

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