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A happy citizen is a better citizen of the world

AvantiKumar | March 2, 2009
The 60-year riddle of the electronic medical record: HIMSS AsiaPac09 conference

"A happy citizen is a much better citizen of the world than an unhappy one," said Professor William Edward Hammond, Health Level Seven chairman, while giving the opening keynote address at the recent HIMSS AsiaPac09Healthcare Information and Management Systems conference and exhibition.

He was referring to quality healthcare as a primary factor, and a result, of happiness and being a good citizen.

However, Professor Hammond admits that after almost 60 years of development of the electronic medical record, "we seem to be struggling with many of the same problems today."

"Applications in healthcare have not kept pace with the technology," says Professor Hammond. "Technology has made amazing progress and applications seem to follow a paper-based process rather than take advantage of technology."

So, he put out a challenge to healthcare IT companies gathered in Kuala Lumpur in February: "Legacy is overpoweringwe are dominated by the past, and we have not been bold enough to tempt the marketplace with a new vision."

What's it all about?

"We have yet to answer the simple question: What is the purpose of the electronic health record, and how can it most effectively be used? It should be much more than just to help with billing," he said.

The heart of the issue is a collection of data called EHR (electronic health record). Professor Hammond said, "The EHR is the centrepiece of IT in healthcare, but it is not the destination. It is just the start of a journey to a better life for all."

Current EHR is fragmented and incomplete, he said. "Life and death decisions need to be made on data from external sources. Errors in healthcare arise from hidden or fragmented information. Healthcare professionals' time in inputting data is crucial. The system should not be paper-based."

"Moving into the future: my belief is that the real value of electronic systems is real-time guidance and the application of knowledge to every day health," he said. "The centrepiece of IHE (integrated health enterprise) is that EHR is associated with the present and future of my healthcare. Details of the past are only important in that they influence current and future decisions."

"Data must be reusable and provide value for multiple secondary uses," he said. "The analysis of patient conditions, demographics, and the environment produce new knowledge that is automatically fed back into the care process. Models of care are produced that permit projections for improved outcomes, reduced costs and higher quality."

The vision of IHE

"The vision is comprehensive data for patient care, and that it integrates the data with knowledge for cognitive support of both providers and patients, as well as empower people to be involved in healthcare," he added.


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