Information Technology


While technology has been a key component of medicine in the modern era, healthcare is moving towards more personalized treatments that are based on enormous amounts of data that are collected and managed in complex computer systems. Will equitable access to healthcare in the future mean not just access to medical professionals, but also access to these promising technologies that can aggregate information from multiple sources, and provide support for treatment planning?

Smartphones and digital devices are no longer just for entertainment or work. Hospitals and doctors’ offices are experimenting with how “smart” devices can support health. How prevalent is broadband access across the states? What is the prevalence of smartphones and wearables like FitBit to log data? To what degree do patients interact with their healthcare providers through technology today?

The Supreme Court held 6-2 in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) preempts Vermont’s all-payers claims database (APCD) law. Seventeen other states collect health care claims data. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing against ERISA preemption, which Justice Ginsburg cited three times in her dissenting opinion.

ERISA applies to the majority of health insurance plans. Rather than guaranteeing substantive benefits, it mandates oversight over plans. ERISA preempts all state laws that “relate” to any employee benefits plan. Vermont’s APCD law requires health insurers to report to the state information related to health care costs, prices, quality, and utilization, among other things.

While debate about improving the nation’s health care system continues, policymakers, health care experts and consumers essentially agree on three goals—improving patient care, creating healthier communities and reducing health care costs. States face huge challenges in developing successful strategies for broad population impact, and even bigger challenges for having a positive impact in rural areas and among certain disadvantaged population groups. Speakers addressed strategies for improving population health, increasing immunization coverage, and providing data to guide state decision-making.

At a time when more people need health care, the shortage of physicians across the country is growing. That dynamic is making telemedicine, or telehealth—the use of electronic telecommunications technology to diagnose or treat a patient in need of care, service or monitoring—even more important.

According to a Stateline report today, less than half of U.S. doctors (48.1 percent) have made the switch to electronic records. Nine states were significantly above the national average – except for Massachusetts, these states were clustered in the upper Midwest and the West. The seven states, and the District of...

Data is the “oxygen for our program” said a Super-Utilizer Summit leader in the October report Super-Utilizer Summit: Common Themes from Innovative Complex Care Management Programs. Data can help policy makers identify and target super-utilizers. However, the correct type of data is important to accurately measure and target patient populations.

Claims data is one source to paint a broad picture of patient populations...

It’s not difficult to find success from medical innovation over the past 50 years.

The federal government invests $31 billion and the private sector—including the biopharmaceutical industry, academic medical centers and patient advocacy organizations—invests nearly $65 billion a year, said Richard Bagger.

Story appears in the 2013 July/August issue of Capitol Ideas.

By Indiana Rep. Ed Clere, House Public Health Committee Chair

As consumers, we have become accustomed to having easy access to information and reviews about the things we buy and the places we visit. Whether we’re shopping for an appliance or a car or looking for a restaurant or a hotel room, we learn from and make purchasing decisions based on the experiences of others. Imagine if we were able to do the same with health care.