April 17, 2012
Many healthcare practitioners have a wish list for 2012. Most Healthcare IT list makers have a tendency to consult everyone but actual practitioners. Healthcare IT News took a different approach and interviewed Dr. Wendy Wittington, a practicing physician, about her top wishes for improved Healthcare IT in 2012. First, Dr. Wittington wants less complaining about the move from the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, or ICD-9, to ICD-10 and more planning to accomplish that goal. For years it has been known that U.S. healthcare is making a significant transition from ICD-9, the primary set of diagnostic codes used to document and bill procedures, to ICD-10, a much wider and more intensive set of codes. ICD-10 increases the number of active diagnostic and procedural codes from roughly 20,000 to more than 100,000. While the AMA has offered several excuses for the delay, including the new healthcare mandates from the federal government, the fact remains that the U.S. is the last country to transition to ICD-10. According to Dr. Wittington, rather than complaining and delaying, actual plans for making the change need to be implemented.
Another item atop Dr. Wittington’s wish list is for more innovation regarding to healthcare IT, specifically EHRs or Electronic Health Records. Implementation is frequently bogged down by a lack of clear understanding in how information is sent and received. With vast amounts of money being spent to bring this technology to hospitals and clinics, little is used for effective training on getting the most out of the technology. “Frequently the programs seem designed more for computer professionals than medical professionals,” says Dr. Wittington. Many providers are doing the minimum required to meet the federal standards it will be some time until full optimization of the technology is realized.
Dr. Wittington would also like to see true interoperability of healthcare IT systems. Currently there is no real financial incentive for IT vendors to ensure the technology is standardized and interoperate with third-party systems. Months after installation and implementation of new communication technology there are still communication problems remain between hospitals and out-patient clinics. According to Dr. Wittington, “It is frustrating for practitioners and patients. More attention to optimization is necessary.”