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With the 7th annual National Health IT Week now upon us and the event's 2012 tagline being "One Voice, One Vision," one theme resonates above the rest at this time in healthcare technology: Integration.
At the intersection of innovation, information and health is a new era of transformation. System-wide adoption of health information technology will allow us to improve the quality of healthcare delivery, increase patient safety, decrease medical errors - and above all, strengthen the interaction between patients and healthcare providers. President Obama even noted in his official proclamation of Health IT Week in 2011 the "essential role of health IT in transforming healthcare in America."
To be a force in this transformation, eHealth and mHealth solutions must focus on integrating - not just with each other or within larger systems, but into the daily workflow of the clinician. All of us who provide products, tools and resources to healthcare professionals and clinicians must aim to enhance their interactions with patients at every touchpoint.
And research tells us this is what clinicians want. Electronic health record and ePrescribing (eRx) systems represent a workflow environment that is ripe for integration of elements that are most meaningful to providers. Tools that can be embedded directly inside these systems to offer relevant resources that support patient education, encourage appropriate use of prescribed drugs and increase adherence will contribute to improved patient engagement at the point of care.
Easy access within the EHR/eRx system to such items as treatment explanations, health program options and incentives will also support the clinician's efforts to create goodwill with his or her patients. The ability to seamlessly retrieve items such as product information, medical reference materials, study results, medication samples, coupons and other relevant services via an integrated system will allow clinicians to feel more confident in their diagnosis and provide better treatment to patients at the point of care. Those patients' outcomes will be the end result of the healthcare transformation driven by today's integrated health IT.
It is more critical than ever for us to build value into the clinician's workflow, without interruption or distraction, to meet the needs of the clinician as well as those of the patient. Of course, innovation will always lead the way in healthcare technology, but the essential key is to integrate - information, access, incentives and relevance - and to make tools and solutions available where and when clinicians want them and can use them with ease.
Sanjay Pingle is president of Physicians Interactive with oversight of the combined pharma and eCommerce business. Prior to joining PI, he was co-founder and executive vice president of Medsite, a biotechnology and pharmaceutical marketing firm that has been named a market leader by Forrester, Jupiter Research and Frost & Sullivan.
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