Dr. John Halamka on the next 5 years in health IT

If the past five years of health IT can be characterized by government intervention, the next five will be characterized by innovation from the private sector.

This is the prediction of John Halamka, MD, CIO of Boston-based BethIsraelDeaconessMedicalCenter, which he outlines in his latest post on The Health Care Blog.

Dr. Halamka wrote the past five years "belonged to the government," in terms of the HITECH Act and the Meaningful Use program pushing much of the digitization and adoption of health IT. These initiatives helped lay the foundation off of which innovation can now grow, he writes.

"The government will continue to be a very important actor, especially CMS, setting payment policy that will impact the behavior of all stakeholders," according to Dr. Halamka. "However, I believe the era of prescriptive government direction of the IT agenda has ended. Provider organizations are begging for an outcomes focus, instead of a process focus."

Where will this outcomes focus come from? Dr. Halamka predicts the private sector — specifically those outside of the mainstream health IT circles — are gearing up to introduce big changes.

Incumbent vendors remain saddled with complying with regulations, so their innovation resources are largely suppressed, according to Dr. Halamka. The same goes for provider organizations, even those that have innovation resources. And, startups and tech companies often have limited knowledge or expertise in healthcare processes, so they often don't fully understand what the marketplace truly needs, Dr. Halamka wrote.

But, the innovators in the private sector and the incumbent vendors and provider organizations also have a chance to pool resources and work together, he wrote, adding vendors like athenahealth and Epic are already crowdsourcing these innovators, athenahealth with its More Disruption Please! Program and Epic with Orchard, its app store.

"In my next 20 years, I hope to oversee innovative work on social networking communication applications, patient-facing mobile applications, population health analytics with workflow tools and cloud-based healthcare IT services," Dr. Halamka wrote. "I turned 54 this month. I'm hoping at 74 that I can reflect on 40 years in New England and say that my efforts have made a difference."

More articles on health IT:

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DOD's Cerner EHR go-live timeline 'not realistic,' audit finds
McKesson considers selling IT unit

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