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emPower eLearning: Minimal health IT standards, data control are a start for learning health system

Monday, January 31, 2011

Minimal health IT standards, data control are a start for learning health system

By Kathryn Foxhall

A minimum of required health IT standards and centralization of data is what’s needed to foster the best climate in which to develop a learning health system and provide a foundation for its expansion, according to the Institute of Medicine.

These were some of the main conclusions garnered from various workshops held throughout 2010, sponsored by the IOM and Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, which focused on ways to promote technical advances in health care, generate and use information, and engage patients.

A report on the workshop results--Roundtable on Value and Science-Driven Health Care-- was published Dec. 20, and laid out various strategies for using IT to accelerate progress in improving healthcare. 
One approach to a digital infrastructure for the learning health system is an “ultra-large-scale system,” in which a few key elements, such as requirements for health information exchange, are standard. At the same time, participants would have flexibility for innovations, and incremental advances in functionality would be the product of “architectural precepts, incentives, and compliance assessment, but not by centralized control,” according to the report.

“[By] incorporating decentralization of data, development, and operational authority and control, this approach fosters local innovation, personalization, and emergent behaviors,” the report said.

Participants in the workshops also endorsed incorporating services and research in a “continuous learning loop” in which the generation and use of knowledge are integrated in healthcare delivery, research, quality improvement and population monitoring.

Health IT also presents an opportunity to improve patients’ access to health information so they and their caregivers can take a more active role in decisions. Integration of data across various sources, including clinical, public health and commercial, is also central to improving care for both individuals and populations, the report said.

This article was originally posted at http://govhealthit.com/newsitem.aspx?tid=62&nid=75753

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