Advances in health information technology hold the potential to greatly improve the quality and safety of patient care. But unless the data generated by that technology can be seamlessly and instantly shared across care settings and among health care providers and payers, that potential will be difficult to reach.
That’s according to John Hammergren, chairman, president and CEO of McKesson, in
his remarks at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s recent conference in Washington, D.C., on increasing the use of technology in health care to improve the financing and delivery of patient care. Hammergren was a headlining presenter at the conference, which also featured such industry leaders as Karen DeSalvo, M.D., HHS’ National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and Tejal Gandhi, M.D., president and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation.
Hammergren said that health IT is an important tool to help the health care industry improve care, reduce costs and increase access. It has the potential to truly transform the health care delivery system, even though the transition to using technology has been difficult for some providers. However, the widespread adoption of technology across the health care industry is required to facilitate the sharing of health care information between consumers and providers, to allow the aggregation of population health data and to provide more transparency and efficiency on the payment side.
Hammergren called engaged patients the “critical fuel” to transform health care. Engaged patients want transparency and mobility, he says, which means they expect access to clinical and financial information whenever and wherever it’s needed.
“We will not accomplish our mission if we can’t share the data,” Hammergren says. “But if we make it through this transition phase, and we become more comfortable with using technology and we become more connected using technology, the future of health care is bright.”
Hammergren lauded private-sector initiatives like the
CommonWell Health Alliance, which McKesson and several other health care information technology companies founded in 2013 to promote interoperability. He also complimented federal policymakers on their partnership with the industry in addressing the challenge of health IT and identified opportunities for state and federal regulators to break down legal barriers to innovation and delivery reform that will rely on interoperability to take root and flourish.
Editor’s Note: Read a commentary by McKesson’s Hammergren and the NPSF’s Dr. Gandhi on innovation being the key to improving the safety of patient care.