Health IT capabilities have improved in recent years, but this has not translated into meaningful improvements in quality of care or job productivity, Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator for CMS, said in an interview with HIStalk.
Slavitt accused the health IT industry of self-congratulatory behavior despite widespread frustration with its products and called for a more blunt discussion about what these products are not doing.
- Slavitt, who served as CMS acting administrator from March 2015 to January 2017, expressed some frustration with the health IT industry during his interview with HIStalk. Asked whether if taxpayers are getting their money’s worth out of $35 billion in federal funding for health IT investments, Slavitt responded, “Not yet we haven’t.” While Slavitt does not believe that a return has been realized on federal investments in health IT so far, that does not mean he has lost hope. “I don’t think anybody should lose promise in the power of what technology can do,” he said.
While health IT has not led to significant breakthroughs yet, Slavitt noted that change within healthcare occurs at a slow pace and believes a return on health IT investments will be realized in the future.
Slavitt touched upon several areas of concern that have received a lot of attention recently, including provider burnout. Physicians are spending about one-half of their workdays on EHR and administrative tasks, according to a study published in September by the Annals of Internal Medicine. More than one-half of providers surveyed by AmericanEHR Partners in 2014 said their EHRs were difficult or too difficult to use.
Under National Coordinator for Health IT Vindell Washington, who stepped down from the post on January 20, the federal government began pushing more strongly to improve interoperability. Some data suggests that interoperability made a leap forward in recent years. In 2015, 69% of hospitals offered the ability to view, download, and transmit electronic health information, according to data released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT in September. That is about seven times as many hospitals offering electronic view, download, and transmit capabilities than there were in 2012.
Health IT companies have already started exploring advanced capabilities for EHRs that may become available in the future. While some of these advanced capabilities certainly seem exciting, many providers and industry insiders like Slavitt might prefer that EHR vendors focus more closely on existing capabilities.