This Week in Health: Bringing Patients Closer to the Center of Health IT
For years, we have heard about how health information technology will revolutionize how we take care of ourselves and the ones we love. Last week, the nation moved one step closer to that vision at the Health Information Technology Standards Committee, a Federal Advisory Committee charged with making recommendations to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (HHS) on how to create and implement the standards for health IT throughout the country. The Committee spent the better part of this past Wednesday’s meeting going through the proposed Standards and Certification Criteria Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for electronic health records. Translation: they reviewed the standards for how our medical information will be handled starting in 2014. It may seem like just another federal meeting but rest assured, coordinated healthcare took a big leap forward this week.
A key theme throughout the meeting was how do these technical standards affect the end user, you and me. Leslie Kelly Hall, of HealthWise, presented the work of the Consumer/Patient Engagement Power Team (yes, they really are called power teams). It is clear that this work-group took the charge of strengthening patient engagement seriously. Two themes really struck a chord. One was “Nothing about me without me” which is a familiar idiom in the research realm, particularly with historically underrepresented populations. However, to apply this to EACH person and their health is powerful. No decisions about your health should be made without you. Now that we are in the midst (if not past the zenith) of a technological era, there are even more opportunities to put patients back at the center of care. Another theme that builds nicely upon this one is “I am a contributing care team member.” So often, when it comes to our health, we assume that the people around us have all the answers. In fact, we know ourselves quite well and have a ton of information to contribute – information that can lead to better outcomes and healthier lives.
In the spirit of the HITSC meeting last week, let’s all do one thing to put us at the center of our health. Whether it is asking your healthcare provider those questions you sometimes shy away from, going to the local clinic or pharmacy to check your blood pressure, or trying out that new, healthier recipe your coworker gave you; do one thing this week to move one step closer to a healthier you. A group of people you most likely don’t know worked hard last week to put us at the center of this country’s healthcare system, shouldn’t we put some effort towards that goal too?
Disclaimer: Though at times I represent my organization on the above mentioned committee, I am not an official member. These views are mine and do not represent those of any committee or organization to which I am affiliated.
Image from http://www.acslaw.org/acsblog/node/14556