Business Roundtable President John Engler participated today in the release of a new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center, "Transforming Health Care: The Role of Health IT," that offered recommendations for expediting the adoption of this technology and its many benefits for patients, providers and payers.
The recommendations range from realigning incentives and payments to support higher quality, more cost-effective care to increasing the use of electronic health records (EHR) and health information exchange to improve care coordination by enabling doctors, hospitals, and patients to securely share health information when patients receive their care in multiple settings.
“There is strong bipartisan support for health IT, and for moving away from a payment model that largely focuses on volume — rewarding providers for doing more — rather than on quality outcomes or value,” said Senator Daschle, Co-leader of BPC’s Health Project at today’s release.
Former Senator Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and a heart surgeon, also headed the project and spoke today, as did former Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio. A panel of experts then spoke on the individual recommendations. [BPC has now posted the video here.]
BRT's Engler provided the business perspective on the value of health IT, explaining that the laws and regulations are already in place to encourage its adoption. So let's move forward, he urged. His [lightly edited] remarks are below:
I’m delighted to be here as a member of the task force, somebody who’s speaking on behalf of business, just to get the opportunity to say, I fully support the findings of the report, and to express to all the members of the task force the gratitude I feel for the contributions that were much more substantial than my own. ...
There is a lot of good information, smart recommendations. You note our previous speakers each took of three of the six, so how many does that leave?
So I will just tell that you in summary, I think they’re all great recommendations. They’re all accessible, very easily accessible, digital, online! That’s a good thing.
I think as a nation, we’ll miss an opportunity to help ourselves and make our health care system safer and more affordable if we don’t drive adoption now of health information technology by providers, employers, insurers and consumers.
And I think we have to put the emphasis on “now”. That’s the key summation of this report. Let’s get going. There shouldn’t be any more excuses. Every American should control their own health information.
If I need to send my records or lab work from my internist to a specialist, I ought to be able to get that done electronically. The alternative means duplication or delay – and that in turn increases costs, or risks, or both.
There’s a wonderful little vignette in the report about a fellow named Kevin, who’s on the road, sixty-ish, who has the beginning of a stroke, far away from home, and it just kind of walks through what should be the case and what should be the result – and in the story in the report, a life-saving result.
But too often the tools and the information aren’t available, and the risks go up, and the outcomes are at risk, as well.
Now, as mentioned by all of us, in one respect, privacy certainly must continue to be protected.
I believe it’s also important to also stress, as much as we have a consumer-focus, aren’t the only winners when we effectively deploy health IT. Providers
Digital technology can ensure that providers are promptly paid for their services, too. That’s a big issue in today’s system. Payment delays as well can add significantly to costs in the system, and frankly, is one of the factors in access. So that gets helped.
We are making enormous discoveries in health care, in how we treat disease. I heard recently in the last couple of weeks a firm out in San Diego is going to be able to take your entire [genome] and get the report done for under a thousand or dollars or so. It’s just amazing what’s happening.
Yet we are lagging in the use simply of advanced technology in how we deliver and pay for services. The report has wonderful recommendations there.
The phrase about “interoperability” as well, that certainly is a requirement, an admonition, if you will. All these health IT systems have to be able to communicate.
The companies I represent at the BRT certainly know how to use technology. It’s been a lifesaver for many of them in communicating and running complicated, global operations where privacy and protecting of information is very, very important, but so is real-time decision-making, with all of the information necessary to make the decision in front of you. If we can do it for a widget, we ought to be able to do it for ourselves.
I think of one our BRT members, in fact, the longest-serving member on the BRT, Fred Smith and his company, FedEx – and Senator Frist certainly knows them very well – and their ability to track a package: They can tell you where it is, how fast it’s moving, and when it’s going to be at your door or when it’s going to be in your office. Who benefits from that? Well, consumers benefit.
And nobody forced FedEx to build this system. There wasn’t a mandate to do it. They figured out how they could get a competitive advantage by deploying technology and continuing to improve it.
This report highlights not only success stories but the important benefits for consumers from the universal adoption of health information technology: important improvements for patients, providers and payers – and frankly a competitive advantage. So, very, very exciting to me.
The good news is that we’re not here to say we need new laws to be passed. As Sen. Daschle explained nicely, we’re about to celebrate the three-year anniversary of the High Tech law… and we really don’t need to spend a lot of time about the intent or wording of the regulation. The benefits of the technology are there, and I think they’re apparent and the report brings them out. We’ve just got too few who are utilizing them.
If only every health care consumer would tell their doctor, their insurer, and their employer that adoption of health information technology is critical … sooner rather than later. That would be a very important step. We need the demand also to come from the bottom up, and that would mean a more affordable and productive health care system in our country.
The technology is within our grasp. Think of this: Apple sold 37 million iPhones last quarter, Now, on average, an iPhone user is going to download more than 40 apps. That’s about 150 million apps for the iPhones sold last quarter. Now I think we can figure out how to manage electronic health care records, folks. I really do. We’re do it in every other aspect of our lives.
The BRT believes there have been too many delays, too many reasons offered for not moving forward. Our CEOs are ready to act.
I hope this report allows us to end whatever debate is going on out there. Let’s really get busy with the implementation and the transformation of health care. I think this report and the fine work done by everybody points the way.
No more excuses. Let’s go to work.
News coverage ....
Topics: Health IT.
You may also be interested in the following related articles on Business Roundtable Today…
Search the Business Roundtable Today archive for interesting content.