RHIO Reports

I’m writing from the second annual RHIOhio conference at OhioUniversity in Athens, Ohio. Brian Phillips, the CIO of the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine has taken on the task of organizing this conference the past two years, and has put together a very good program.

I wrote a while back about our RHIO efforts in Appalachian Ohio. The challenges that we face include all the issues of governance and misaligned incentives that you are likely to see in any of these federated efforts, plus the uniquely rural problems of poor infrastructure (e.g. inadequate broadband availability) and a serious shortage of IT talent.

Heather Dimeris, the Associate Director of the HHS Office of Rural Health Policy, recognized those concerns when she noted that her agency had identified their 2008 priorities as workforce issues, quality improvement, and HIT in general.

Here are a few other miscellaneous observations:

  • Per Chris Muir, senior analyst with the Office of the National Coordinator- The federal government, through its triple role as employer, payer, and provider directly makes up 40% of the US healthcare system.
  • Per Aneesh Chopra, Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia- Although much of the work done to date toward healthcare data exchange has been driven by the CIOs and others within the IT discipline, real breakthroughs won’t happen until the “civilians”; board chairmen, employer leaders, etc; elevate the task on their priority lists.
  • And a personal note- We continue to talk about government and hospitals being the driving forces behind these initiatives and improvement in the healthcare system in general. It strikes me that there are at least six primary constituents represented in the US healthcare system- government, payers, hospitals, physicians, patients, and employers. Two of these groups have the most influence over utilization and cost, patients and physicians. Those are also the two who are least organized and have the least leverage to act.

I plan to share more as we go. Any thoughts you’d like to contribute?

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