Impact Insights

Week in Review 5/22/15

A new study in the Annals of Family Medicine finds that even physician practices that have achieved recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) do not consistently use IT to support care coordination.  According to the authors, there was a disconnect between the clinicians surveyed (all of whom work at physician practices recognized as a PCMH) and the actual IT capabilities in use.  For example, more than three quarters of respondents said it was “very important” to receive timely notification when a patient is discharged from the hospital – but fewer than 50% “routinely use health IT” to do so.  Interestingly, the study also found that “greater use of health IT to support care coordination activities was positively associated with the presence of a non-clinician responsible for care coordination and the practice’s capacity for systematic change.”

Impact Advisors’ Thoughts:  The results of the study are somewhat startling, since respondents were all from practices that have achieved status as a PCMH and (presumably) have a vested financial interest in care coordination.  If the use of IT to support coordination of care is inconsistent for this group, we suspect it is dramatically lower for the average physician practice today.

An interesting – and detailed – article in the Washington Post looks at the “digital revolution in healthcare” stemming from the “flood of wearable devices” and the “explosion in extreme tracking.”  The story covers some fascinating devices and sensors currently in development, such as Google’s smart contact lens that can determine glucose levels from a person’s tears.  The Post acknowledges the well-established privacy concerns in this arena, but also points out that wearables and tracking devices are “inherently social” technologies – especially among young adults today.

Impact Advisors’ Thoughts: The article is definitely recommended reading… some of the examples of what is being developed are nothing short of jaw-dropping.  However, realizing a true “revolution” from wearable devices will require that the data collected is actually usedThat will likely be easier said than done, as most providers are still struggling to get value from a lot of the data they already have.

In case you missed it… 1.2 billion electronic prescriptions – or more than two-thirds of all new electronic prescriptions in 2014 – passed through the Surescripts network, according to Surescripts’ annual National Progress Report.  More details also available in this story from MedCity News.