Life Science Compliance Update

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September 27, 2013

Health Information Technology – Creating a Common Vocabulary

Often when health care professionals meet with a health IT professionals they get lost in the conversation somewhere around the fifth word. Then the conversation sounds like that of Linus or Charlie Brown listening to the teacher. The words just become nonsensical.

We have discussed health care information technology in some detail in previous posts. A new tool, unveiled by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), is aimed at helping providers and payers evaluate the impact of their technology decisions.

According to FierceHealthIT, the tool: "creates a "common vocabulary" that helps to provide common ground for health IT stakeholders. The "knowledge repository" categorizes documented examples of health IT into five categories it refers to as STEPS: satisfaction; treatment/clinical; electronic information/data; prevention and patient education; and savings."

HIMSS Executive Vice President Carla Smith says: "We've created the Health IT value suite because as health stakeholders are increasingly implementing and using technology solutions, we must understand how these investments are paying off for better patient care while controlling costs."

"HIMSS Health IT Value Suite offers a taxonomy to have that discussion. It offers a framework to describe value and articulate it, and also provides findings from our robust library to help providers, policymakers and other stakeholders evaluate the impact of IT use in healthcare."


Bryan Sivak, Chief Technology Officer for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, called the resource "very important" as technology use in healthcare continues to grow.

According to Sivak, technology: "is fundamentally changing the way we purchase healthcare, the way we interact with healthcare and the way that we experience healthcare, both as consumers and as actors in the ecosystem."

HIMSS's resource offers stakeholders relevant and credible answers to questions such as: (1) In a medical practice, how has health IT been used by physicians to improve patient care?; (2) How does health IT benefit a patient's experience in a care encounter?; (3) How can IT help hospitals, practices, clinics and other points of care reduce costs while maintaining or improving the quality and safety of patient care?

As stated by the HIMSS announcement, the Society has collected hundreds of provider case studies demonstrating the value of health IT, creating a "library" of case studies that now serves as the foremost collection of data/evidence of health IT value.

"As healthcare providers continue to implement IT solutions, it is increasingly critical to be able to evaluate technology's real impact. Pinpointing the clinical and financial impact of health IT investments is complex. That's why we're introducing the Health IT Value Suite," Smith said.

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