Dr Peter Paul Yu Discusses the Impact of Health Information Technology in Oncology

The ability to create health information technology tools is happening much faster than the ability to figure out what to do with them, explained Peter Paul Yu, MD, FASCO, FACP, physician-in-chief, Hartford HealthCare Cancer Center.

The ability to create health information technology tools is happening much faster than the ability to figure out what to do with them, explained Peter Paul Yu, MD, FASCO, FACP, physician-in-chief, Hartford HealthCare Cancer Center.

Transcript

How have health technologies helped enhance high-quality cancer care and improve outcomes for patients?

So, the great challenge we’ve always faced is how do we keep pace with the new technologies that are coming down the pipe? Because we’re getting so good at developing new technologies, whether it’s informatics or it’s precision medicine or new drug therapies or diagnostics. Our ability to create these new tools is much faster than our ability to figure out what to do with it, because when you want to measure outcomes improvement, it requires acquisition of the technology, which has certain expense to it. It requires learning how to use it properly, adapting it to its use, and then measuring the outcomes.

There may be many intermediary steps between the technology and actually the outcomes measures, so it’s a real difficult question to answer: how have these improved our outcomes? It’s really that lack of ability to measure adequately that’s slowing us down more than anything else at this time.

Having said that, I think we are seeing real progress with the use of information technology. I think, without a question, if you ask most physicians, I think, would they rather go back to paper charts? The answer would probably be "no." If you asked patients, would you like to go back to the age where you could not get a patient portal? Find out your lab tests? I mean you always want more, but would you want to go back to the point where you had nothing? People would say "no, that’s not a good idea either."

So, I think that we are frustrated with how slow it goes, but that tends to make us not realize how far we’ve gone and where we used to be just a short while ago.