Report: Increase Health IT Benefits By Removing Industry Barriers

If health information technology is going to significantly impact the healthcare industry, policymakers need to empower patients, reform payment systems, and remove inappropriate pre-digital era regulatory barriers, according to a report from an international innovation work group.

The Digital Innovation in Healthcare Working Group recently delivered the health IT innovation report at the inaugural meeting of the Global Health Policy Summit in London.

Titled “The Digital Dimension of Healthcare,” the report details recent digital innovations that could have a significant positive impact on the healthcare industry—if international governments foster the digital transformation by encouraging innovation and removing barriers.

According to the report, digital innovations in modern technology will allow providers the ability to address three core challenges in healthcare:

  • Growth in costs outpacing growth in Domestic Gross Product
  • Uneven quality in outcomes and patient experience
  • Inadequate access to care in various urban and rural regions.

 

While more traditional approaches have failed to fully resolve these growing healthcare issues, digital innovation may provide more adequate solutions. The report identifies and describes three main categories of innovation that have the power to impact healthcare:

  • Digital channel for health
  • Digital innovation for consumers
  • Digital initiatives for social impact

 

The digital channel for health offers opportunities for providers and payers to leverage digital and social media in order to improve productivity as well as develop and strengthen services that foster patient relationships. These new technologies allow providers greater outreach capabilities to expand and redefine their methods for the best possible delivery of care model.

The availability of digital innovation for consumers has generated new tools and programs that directly involve patients and caregivers in their treatment and care. Products can vary from online portals to personal monitoring devices. The deployment of these tools and the integration of patients in their care “is already showing clear potential for improving health outcomes and patient experience,” according to the report.

The new innovations in digital and social media have also led to digital initiatives for social impact. Armed with these technologies, public and socially-driven entities such as governments and nonprofit non-governmental organizations have been able to revamp programs such as public health and awareness campaigns.

The authors also identify six principles that policymakers can leverage to develop “a more effective and comprehensive healthcare system.”

  • Create and communicate a broad and overarching vision that designates digital innovation as a top priority.
  • Develop a workable balance between beneficial information sharing and the need for patient privacy.
  • Take steps to further empower and engage patients in their care with patient rights policies and open platforms that give patients a voice.
  • Adapt payment systems with economic incentives for payers and providers (i.e., outcome-based payment).
  • Revamp regulatory pathways to reduce barriers that inhibit regulatory approval and licensing to reflect the different levels of risk associated with digital innovations.
  • Accelerate the development of the healthcare evidence base to promote standardization of proven effective care procedures.

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