Dr Eric Schneider Discusses Impact of Health Technology and Remaining Barriers

Health technology innovations are transforming the way healthcare is being delivered, but there remain a variety of barriers when it comes to sharing data, said Eric C. Schneider, MD, MSc, senior vice president for policy and research at The Commonwealth Fund.

Health technology innovations are transforming the way healthcare is being delivered, but there remain a variety of barriers when it comes to sharing data, said Eric C. Schneider, MD, MSc, senior vice president for policy and research at The Commonwealth Fund.

Transcript (modified)

What impacts have innovations in health technology had so far on quality and affordability of healthcare?

Health information technology has already begun to transform the delivery of healthcare in many ways. The use of even simple things like email and text messaging in primary care have made a big difference, and people are rapidly exploring lots of other potentials around sensor data, the ability to do remote monitoring, telemedicine, and a variety of other digital communications technologies.

What are the biggest challenges to realizing the promises of health information technology?

Probably the biggest barrier right now is the interoperability, the ability to share data across the system, for data to flow freely throughout the system. There are a variety of problems that get in the way: traditionally there have been issues of standards, the financial incentives for sharing data are not there, many organizations still have a proprietary interest in their data and don’t want to share that, and there are privacy and security concerns about sharing data that may become widely available through breaches and other releases.

Is enough being done to fix the interoperability challenge?

I think the information blocking report that came out of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology earlier was an important step forward. People now recognize the problem and there is a lot of work on how to address it, how to remove the barriers to information sharing. It’s really going to be vital if we’re going to see this growth of technologies that are more consumer focused and able to deliver care to people where they are, in the home or elsewhere.