Consumer Network for Healthcare e-Quality Lunch: E-Health in Chapter 305, the Consumer Perspective
Deb Fournier, Associate Director of Policy for AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, gave a bird's eye view of the e-health sections of Chapter 305, the new "Cost Containment" law yesterday as part of HCFA's Consumer Network for Healthcare e-Quality's Luncheon Series. (Her presentation will be available on HCFA's E-Health E-Vent webpage early next week.) This far-reaching law will go a long way in pushing Health Information Technology forward in Massachusetts: it sets the ambitious goal of full implementation of electronic health records and a statewide interoperable health records network by 2015.
The very lively discussion that Deb's presentation prompted focused on the consumer issues that are at the heart of HIT. Computerizing health records offers the wonderful possibility of streamlined care, improved quality, patient participation, and, eventually, reduced costs. But, of course, where there are benefits, there are always costs. The issues of privacy and trust in the system, how and by whom the policies and standards will be created and implemented, and the role of the consumer in participating and shaping this system were clearly on the minds of the participants. There are no simple solutions to these complex issues, but by engaging consumers and advocates in open and honest - and sometimes difficult -- conversations, the delicate balance between benefits and costs shifts slowly but inexorably in the direction of benefits. Why? Because trust is what it is all about, and openness promotes just that.