Repository will help value IT investments

HIMSS repository will help evaluate IT investments

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society on July 16 announced the release of a new online collection of data – both quantitative and qualitative – designed to help care providers, lawmakers and other stakeholders research the value of health information technology.

As the health sector strives to improve health and healthcare through the optimal use of IT, measuring technology’s impact and value to patients and caregivers becomes critical. Recognizing the need for a consistent way to understand, evaluate and communicate the real-world impact of health IT, HIMSS introduced the Health IT Value Suite, which it bills as a comprehensive knowledge repository that classifies, quantifies and articulates the clinical, financial and business impact of health IT investments.

"For the past decade, providers, payers and other healthcare stakeholders have moved rapidly to implement strategic IT solutions across the organization," said Carla Smith, executive vice president of HIMSS, during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington. "The end game for all players across the healthcare landscape is better and safer care, with more accountability, while keeping costs in check. These are critical goals that impact every American."

"Adding to these high stakes," said Smith, "is the EHR incentive program from the federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as significant private sector investments. 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."

The Health IT Value Suite creates a taxonomy and framework to quantify and discuss the impact of IT in health settings. Further, it offers relevant and credible examples that help stakeholders – from providers to policymakers to payers to influencers – evaluate the success of their information technology investments with an emphasis on examining and improving performance across numerous clinical, business and financial factors, according to HIMSS.

"The value of health IT is demonstrated in many ways; some may be unique to an organization, while others may be highly adoptable and scalable," said Smith. "HIMSS created the Health IT Value Suite to organize and create a common vocabulary to identify, classify and discuss the many known examples of health IT value, to create a comprehensive library of case studies from which we can research impact, and to educate all on the findings."

With its library of patient care-focused data organized by levels of evidence, the Health IT Value Suite offers stakeholders answers to questions such as:

  • In a medical practice, how has health IT been used by physicians to improve patient care?
  • How does health IT benefit a patient’s experience in a care encounter?
  • 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?

[See also: HIMSS: IT pros share network struggles]

HIMSS 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, the association said. Using this evidence, HIMSS has identified ways in which value can be realized, and has grouped them into five categories, called “Health IT Value STEPS.”

The Health IT Value STEPS include:

  • Satisfaction­: of patients, providers, staff and others
  • Treatment: including safety, quality of care and efficiency
  • Electronic information / data: 
evidence based medicine; data sharing and reporting
  • Prevention and patient education: 
prevention; patient education
  • Savings: 
financial / business; efficiency savings; operational savings

Go to to access the HIMSS Health IT Value Suite, an executive summary of this new initiative, and learn how to submit case studies for review. As a living library, it will be continually updated with additional data and increased functionality, with several major enhancements scheduled over the next few months.

Carol Steltenkamp, MD, chief medical information officer at University of Kentucky HealthCare, is a HIMSS board member, chair of the Kentucky Regional Extension Center and a practicing pediatrician. At the press conference, she praised the new Health IT Value Suite. “I’m not a doctor who is a techy. But what I am is passionate about using healthcare IT to improve the care of my patients,” she said.

The Health IT Value Suite should help any doctors who might be going through a difficult time of transitioning to EHRs, according to HIMSS. It could be a valuable resource for finding physician colleagues who could offer help and advice.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), a member of HIMSS, said the new resource should help to push forward a legislative agenda that will ease the path for innovators in the health IT space. He proposed a bill, the Health Care Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act of 2013, on June 13 that would establish an Office of Wireless Health Technology within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That office would help the FDA to work more effectively at regulating mobile health. The bill also offers funding opportunities for start-up health IT enterprises.

Two years ago, Honda predicted that mobile phones would soon be a key part of healthcare, and people laughed it off. That’s not the case now, he noted. Mobile phones are fast becoming a key part of improving the doctor-patient relationship.