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5 health policy predictions

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5 health policy predictions

5 health policy predictions July 26, 2017

Healthcare is a major topic of discussion in the news, in politics, and among physicians and their patients. Debate continues around the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), whether it will be replaced with any version of a new plan, and when any changes might occur. Issues of coverage, premiums, taxes, and the state of Medicaid are points of contention that have made healthcare and its policies uncertain.

Still, experts can make health policy predictions, based on the current healthcare IT environment and how it is moving forward. John Halamka, MD, CIO of Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is optimistic about healthcare IT and has offered five predictions about its future:

  1. Stakeholders need to “focus on enhancing interoperability technology and policy in support of care coordination, population health, precision medicine, patient/family engagement, and research.” Care coordination, in particular, will become more important as the patient population ages.
  2. In regard to electronic health records (EHRs), “usability of the IT tools in the marketplace needs to be enhanced.” Independent physicians can take advantage of these technology tools to streamline their practices and focus more on patient care, but the tool itself must become more user-friendly. EHR vendors are progressing in this area, as they are working on usability improvements.
  3. A number of organizations “in industry, government, and academic are thinking about patient identity strategies.” Whether that identifier is biometrics, a voluntary national identifier, or an innovative software solution, the focus will be on building a “consensus on a framework that accelerates the availability of such an identifier for multiple purposes.”
  4. To simplify patient privacy protections, organizations are researching “how best to converge our heterogeneous state privacy policies, specifically focusing on the role of the patient as data steward.”
  5. In a move toward improved patient outcomes and a value-based payment structure, there will be “an overwhelming sentiment that the concept of certification and prescriptive IT policy should be replaced by an outcomes focus.”

Dr. Halamka predicts the future of healthcare will be a “great time” for patients, as IT systems improve through market-driven innovations and low-cost, cloud-based systems help physicians focus more on quality outcomes for their patients.