The bottom-line of a new Health Affairs study is that Today's 'Meaningful Use' Standard For Medication Orders By Hospitals May Save Few Lives; Later Stages May Do More (the full text is available online for a limited time).' Authors Spencer S. Jones, Paul Heaton, Mark W. Friedberg, and Eric C. Schneider check out the impact of using electronic medication orders for at least 30' percent of eligible patients in hospitals, as required by phase 1 of meaningful-use regulations.' ' ' They evaluated the relationship between the use of electronic medication order entry and hospital mortality and found that:
"'the requirements of stage 1 meaningful use could result in 1.2' percent fewer deaths of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries from heart failure and heart attack. However, because this estimate did not reach the threshold for statistical significance, we cannot conclude that the relatively low threshold required in stage 1 will yield significant reductions in hospital mortality. On the other hand, a threshold comparable to the one tentatively set for stage 2 was more consistently associated with lower mortality. It could result in 2.1' percent fewer deaths."
Given the sunny outlook for advancing meaningful use standards in hospital e-prescribing, it's fair to ask, "What other HIT strategies in health care will be key to improving health outcomes?"' Lygeia Ricciardi, Senior Policy Advisor for Consumer e-Health at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), believes that patient engagement with health information technology is key.' Lygeia's post on the HealthIT.gov cite, Helping Consumers Be Partners in Their Own Health, promotes the ONC's new Consumer e-Health Program, which aims to "equip and empower individuals to be partners in their own health and health care through health IT".' In other words, "Putting the 'I' in Health IT."
But ONC isn't the only federal player in the game.' The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released new tools and enhancements for consumers and providers as well.' ' Among them are a Quality Care Finder and a Hospital Compare website to "empower consumers to make informed choices about their health care, and to help improve the quality of care in America's hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices, and other health care settings."' (More on the terms empowered and consumer from Jessie Gruman here.)
Will the increased production and availability of new health tools spur patients, caregivers, and members of the public to make use of them?' Dale Shaller, a patient engagement expert and CFAH William Ziff Fellow, thinks that patient portals in electronic health records (EHRs) offer "a glimpse of hope' for increasing people's engagement in their health care.' When asked what the biggest challenge is that people face in engaging in their health and care, Dale responded that the challenges haven't changed'rather, they have been intensified.
- Bad Language: Words One Patient Won't Use (and Hopes You Won't Either)' - Jessie Gruman
- Health Care Consumers: Are We a Nation of Savvy Shoppers?' - Jessie Gruman
- Vanishing Health Care Choices' - Trudy Lieberman
- Meaningful Health Care' - Chris Gibbons
- Can EHR's Make Disparities Disappear?' - Chris Gibbons