Thursday, May 12, 2005

HHS Secretary and Leading U.S. Companies Say Health Information Technology Should Be Urgent Priority

On May 11, 2005 Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt issued a press release on a new report citing investment in information technology (IT) as an essential, high priority for the American health care system and the U.S. economy.

HHS released a new report, "Health Information Technology Leadership Panel: Final Report," at the Business Roundtable's Chief Executive Officer Health Care Summit. The Report, prepared by The Lewin Group, a health care policy consulting firm, through a contract with HHS, convened a Health Information Technology Leadership Panel made up of corporate executives from large U.S. companies that purchase a substantial amount of health care for their employees.

According to the press release, the Leadership Panel identified three key imperatives for health IT:

1. Widespread adoption of interoperable health IT should be a top priority for the U.S. health care system.
2. The federal government should use its leverage as the nation’s largest health care payer and provider to drive adoption of health IT.
3. Private sector purchasers and health care organizations can and should collaborate alongside the federal government to drive adoption of health IT.

The panel also reached six conclusions to guide health IT adoption by the federal government and private sector.

1. Potential benefits of health IT far outweigh manageable costs.
2. Health IT needs a clear, broadly motivating vision and practical adoption strategy.
3. The federal government should provide leadership, and industry will engage and follow.
4. Lessons of adoption and success of IT in other industries should inform and enhance adoption of health IT.
5. Stakeholder incentives must be aligned to foster health IT adoption.
6. Among its multiple stakeholders, the consumer – including individual beneficiaries, patients, family members and the public-at-large – is key to adoption of health IT and realizing its benefits.

Finally, the Leadership Panel identified themes regarding the relative benefits and costs of health IT implementation. First, investment in health IT is urgent and vital to rising health care demands, business interests and the broader US economy. Despite the initial costs, health IT will become an essential means -- among others -- for managing health care costs. Second, the potential benefits and costs of health IT must be clearly perceived by its stakeholders.

The press release announcing the release of the report can be found here.

"The Health Information Technology Leadership Panel: Final Report" can be found here.

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