The prognosis for EHRs
EHR providers are, not surprisingly, bullish on the future of EHR efforts. Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, a senior director at Exigen Services, says deploying an EHR system is just like implementing any big enterprise application, only the enterprise in this case is bigger and the stakes are higher. "The technology exists today and despite the fact that we lack some core standards, we are enabling the development of a flexible infrastructure to stay in tune with requirements. I can visualize a successful national system," he says.
As Kaiser's Chin points out, there is a convergence occurring around health care technology regarding how to share it and use it to assist delivery of services and treatment. But the challenge of orchestrating and satisfying so many stakeholders remains. Plus, even if the solutions are mandated rather than eventually negotiated, the task of gathering the many pieces that are still in flux, then integrating them remains a complex technical and process task.
Over time, both industry representatives and analysts expect that every U.S. citizen will have an EHR available nationwide. But to make it happen will require a great deal of cooperation, innovation, and an investment in health-oriented IT. This shift will likely start at a less ambitious level than the political rhetoric suggests, with local practitioners sharing patient information in a local health care ecosystem.