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These days everyone seems to lead fast and busy lives. A visit to the doctors can seem stressful and frustrating with all the paper work that needs to be filled out. In addition to the paper work there are usually additional questions asked by the clerks assigned to your case. With this in mind there are many types of innovation in healthcare services currently in use which give patients the ability to make visiting the doctor a whole lot easier.
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Helpful Online Services
Microsoft HealthVault is a system set up that allows consumers the opportunity to gather and store their health care information and share it with numerous health services on line. Although the input information in their system may seem taxing, things like hospital visits, medications, and various tests, can prove beneficial when wanting the best health care.
Google Health is a free online service that allows patients to gather their health care information into one central location. One feature of Google Health is that it allows you to build online health profiles, share health information, and gather medical record information from pharmacies and hospitals.
Web MD Personal Health Record
Web MD also offers services for storing and managing family health care information. Their premise is that this service will aid in families becoming fully aware of their health benefits.
All three of the above services seem to incorporate strict rules regarding patient privacy. Web MD was awarded the URAC eHealth Seal, which is a part of the TRUSTe Privacy Program and HON.
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Healthcare Technology Pioneer
Dr David J. Brailer, the former Health Information Technology Coordinator under the Bush Administration, once shared these thoughts:
“A Harris poll, published last month (July 2007), found that 52 percent of adults sometimes or frequently go to the Web for health information, up from 29 percent in 2001. Furthermore, 58 percent of people who look online for health information discussed what they found with their doctors last year”.
Dr. Brailer has raised issues that have been given a huge amount of exposure over the past few years. In 2005, Dr. Brailer composed a plan that would have every American given an electronic record of their health care information by the year 2014. The information on their records would then be linked to an enormous medical internet, called the Health Information Network Inc. (NHIN). With Dr. Brailer and his crew as the leading force in this agenda, guidelines would be in place accounting the exchange of data. This plan would also expect hospitals to pick up the 150 billion dollar tab for computers and software, over a five year period of time.
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The focus under Dr. Brailer’s plan was to provide doctors with new types of innovation in healthcare services. One very important aspect of this plan was to make patient information available a lot quicker than the regular norm. This task would be accomplished by the linking of computers together on the web. Those that were in favor of this plan believed it could save many lives. An example of a benefit of Dr. Brailer’s plan is that it gives doctors’ information on a patient’s current medication usage. It is thought that the knowledge of a patient’s current medication usage will aid doctors with which medication to give or rather not give a patient. With this in mind, patient information obtained at a much faster rate helps with the error factor.
The NHIN plan was developed with hopes to eliminate $120 billion from health care costs by improving in areas such as duplicate tests, services rendered to chronically ill patients, and lessening the duration of hospital stays. Could this plan someday significantly help our country's Medicare debt? Supporters like Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt sure thought so. "It's a key part of saving Medicare," said Leavitt of this issue.
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The NHIN plan, like any plan presented before congress, had those both for it and against it. Those that opposed it like Marcy Swelling, a practitioner in internal medicine in Los Alamos, Calif., thought that the NHIN plan would eventually result in performing too many unnecessary tests. Pamela R. Kushner, a family medicine physician in Long Beach, Calif., talked about the financial cost of upgrading her practice and not wanting to take on the cost of the plan. Other potential problems cited include:
- additional costs for hospitals and private practices already in financial crises
- patients afraid of hackers invading their medical information
- patient health care costs and choices restricted
- possible discrimination by insurance companies when given patient health information
Andrew L. Stern, Employees International Union President, had doubts that the system would work at all. Sterns explained that workers didn't have the skills to work under Dr. Brailers' plan and that employers would ultimately keep the savings.
In 2006, Dr Brailer announced to industry leaders that he was resigning from the Office of Health information Technology. He has been praised for his accomplishments and noted for working with a very limited budget.
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Today's Perspective on Healthcare Information Technology
On May 2, 2010 Vice President Biden together with Secretary Sebelius shared that $220 million was awarded to 15 Beacon Communities all across the United States for the purpose of improving the delivery of care to all Americans.
In hopes of strengthening their exchange capabilities and infrastructure, The Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program will give funding to communities for improvement to health information technology (health IT) systems. The ONC, in May 2010 , awarded 15 Beacon communities. Under this plan there will be measurable improvements in efficiency, safety, and the quality of health care. Additional Beacon Community awards are available with funding in the amount of $30 million. Improvements will be in the following areas:
- health care cost
- quality of health care
- patient safety
For more information on the Beacon Community funding: Funding Opportunities Announcement [MS Word doc - 822 KB]
There was a press release concerning the certification program for electronic health record(EHR) technology by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The Certification in the EHR technology, according to this press release, will give health care providers assurance that this technology has been tested and will perform the way it is suppose to with the overall goal of improving patient health care.
For more information on the temporary certification program visit http://healthit.hhs.gov/certification.
This article's purpose was to inform readers of the many past and present innovative tools for health care services whose sole purpose was for the reducing of unnecessary cost, patient care, and aiding in an already financial burdened Medicare system.
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