Bipartisan Policy Center calls for more, better health IT


Former Senator Tom Daschle

A think tank with a healthcare task force chaired by former Senators Tom Daschle, a Democrat, and Bill Frist, MD, a Republican, is advocating for improved and better-used health information technology. Among the group's recommendations is "robust" data exchange.

The Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on Delivery System Reform and Health IT released its report on Jan. 27.

Besides data exchange, the recommendations range from realigning incentives and payments to support higher quality, more cost-effective care to increasing the use of electronic health records.

“There is strong bipartisan support for health IT, and for moving away from a payment model that largely focuses on volume – rewarding providers for doing more – rather than on quality outcomes or value,” said Daschle.

“To deliver high-quality, cost-effective care, a physician or hospital needs good information,” said Frist. “Data about patients has to flow across primary care physicians, hospitals, labs, and anywhere that patients receive care."

The two former senators note that the recommendations come at  a time of unprecedented public and private spending on health IT. An investment of nearly $30 billion was triggered by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, spurring significant investments by the private sector. They note that a majority of the federal investment is in the form of incentive payments through the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

The task force recommends actions for aligning incentives and payment with higher quality, more cost-effective care, along with the health IT-enabled, coordinated, accountable, patient-centered delivery models that support such outcomes.

To further accelerate health information exchange, the Task Force recommends that the next phase of meaningful use and related standards and certification programs support the more robust exchange of standards-based data across multiple settings; public-private sector agreement on and execution of a common set of principles, policies and methods for exchange in the near-term; and the development and execution of a long-term strategy for the data standards and interoperability needs associated with delivering care, empowering patients, and improving population health.

Educating consumers about the benefits of electronic tools, and promoting their use, is an additional focus of the task force’s recommendations.

“We need a bold campaign to raise awareness among consumers about the benefits of using these tools,” said BPC Health Project State Co-Chair and former Gov. Ted Strickland. “We need to make it easier for consumers to navigate the health care system and take control of their health.”

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