BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 11 The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) released a framework for classifying and assessing unintended consequences of health information technology (HIT) and policy during its 4th Annual invitational Health Policy Conference. The conference, held on September 9 and 10, 2009, in Reston, Virginia, drew diverse stakeholders from the public and private sectors who focused their discussions on anticipating unintended consequences of HIT and policy, as well as options for addressing them. Keynote presentations were made by David Blumenthal, MD, PhD, National HIT Coordinator, and Aneesh Chopra, MPP, Chief Technology Officer and Associate Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy.
Edward Shortliffe, MD, PhD, AMIA president and CEO, noted that "the healthcare environment is evolving rapidly. With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the United States is investing significantly in HIT in general and electronic health records (EHRs) in particular. They are viewed as a national imperative to improve healthcare delivery and quality and to reduce healthcare costs. AMIA has identified the roles of stakeholders (including government, industry, organizations, and biomedical and health informaticians) in anticipating and addressing unintended consequences."
During his remarks, David Blumenthal called for "the creation of a learning community" within HIT. Justin Starren, MD, PhD, FACMI, co-chair of the meeting and Director, Biomedical Informatics Research Center, Marshfield Clinic, observed, "It goes without saying that any endeavor of this scale will produce unintended and unanticipated consequences. We can learn from those consequences and improve our systems, but only if organizations are encouraged to share their experiences, both good and bad, in implementing these systems."
"HIT includes not only the current focus areas of electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchange (HIE), but also applications and systems that will be used by consumers and other stakeholders such as personal health records (PHRs) and consumer health and chronic disease management tools," stated Nancy M. Lorenzi, PhD, meeting co-chair and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at Vanderbilt University.
"We believe that improving the state of HIT in this country has enormous potential to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. However, we also believe that unintended consequences can and must be anticipated, identified, and addressed in order to maximize the beneficial effects of HIT," commented David W. Bates, MD, MA, AMIA Board Chair.
Participants also considered potential future issues that we might face, especially those due to the convergence of HIT, clinical technologies and devices, and communications capabilities. During plenary sessions and in small discussion groups, they explored successful approaches to anticipating, recognizing/identifying, and addressing potential unintended consequences of HIT as well as potential unintended consequences of HIT policy and legislative efforts. AMIA plans to develop and disseminate materials that synthesize the conference outcomes to help inform policymakers, Congress, and others about the issues related to unintended consequences of HIT design, development, implementation, adoption and use. Recommendations for areas warranting further research and study will also be included. Interim work products and meeting materials are made available on the AMIA web site at: http://www.amia.org/2009healthpolicymeeting.
AMIA is the professional home for biomedical and health informatics. AMIA is dedicated to promoting the effective organization, analysis, management, and use of information in health care in support of patient care, public health, teaching, research, administration, and related policy. AMIA's 4,000 members advance the use of health information and communications technology in clinical care and clinical research, personal health management, public health/population, and translational science with the ultimate objective of improving health. Complete information about AMIA is available at: www.amia.org.
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SOURCE American Medical Informatics Association