We are rapidly moving from not having enough information to having too much.
| || |
| || ||Glen Tullman |
| ||Allscripts, CEO |
Ernst & Young: How is Allscripts positioned as health care systems focus increasingly on health outcomes?
Tullman: Today, many industry observers have a negative assessment of health care delivery, believing that — with costs higher and quality lower — we are at the beginning of the end of health care as we know it. At Allscripts, we see things differently. To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, we believe we are at the "end of the beginning." In our view, we're in the first stages of enormous innovation and progress, similar to the days when the internet was just starting to take hold.
We are rapidly moving from not having enough information to having too much. For information to be useful, it will need to be radically simplified and presented in a way that health care providers can use to truly improve patient care, at the right point in the care process. Allscripts is today one of the largest providers of electronic health records (EHRs) in the United States. The fact that we have solutions across the entire continuum of care — which means physician offices, hospitals and post-acute care — positions Allscripts to deliver the insights that will lead to better health outcomes. It's a concept we call "insights to outcomes," or i2O.
We are focusing on i2O to promote adoption and meaningful use of EHRs, delivering real, actionable insights to physicians and caregivers at the point of patient care. It is these insights that will drive better clinical and financial outcomes — and ultimately usher in a new age for health care. We believe that health care is fundamentally an information business, which is different from many of our competitors who simply want to sell software.
Ernst & Young: How important is patient centricity in your company's strategy and approach?
Tullman: Patients are indeed taking more control over their health, getting better information up front to stay healthy. The challenge is, how can they best interact with the health care system to make sure they are understood? At Allscripts, we have developed a series of patient-focused information tools and offerings.
For example, we have partnered with Intuit to co-develop and distribute a patient health portal. On the financial side, patients can connect with their physicians and conduct almost all their business electronically, from registering for appointments to paying bills.
On the clinical side, they can receive follow-up information directly from their physicians (for example, lab results) without having to call. Also, our systems are being used more and more in environments that enable physicians to provide telehealth and telemedicine. These patient-centric technologies, in their ability to engage patients clinically and financially, and to create highly efficient processes, are key to our future strategy and to the future of health care delivery.
Ernst & Young: What is your prognosis for meaningful adoption of EHRs?
Tullman: We view the federal government's stimulus plan for EHRs as an intelligently designed policy initiative. It offers incentives to providers not only to purchase the technology for EHRs but also to use the technology to produce quality data that demonstrates they are actually improving care.
Adoption is increasing, physician behavior is changing, and we're seeing the beginning of substantial improvements in quality and efficiency. Within this decade, we expect the health care industry will be fully automated. The banking industry provides an interesting parallel.
When ATMs were introduced, they were disconnected networks. We had to search for an ATM that would accept our cards. Now we can go virtually anywhere in the world, use almost any machine, and in a few seconds, withdraw cash in any currency we want.
Eventually, we will be able to go anywhere in the world and access our health information. Just as we are unlikely to choose a bank that doesn't have an ATM network, we will be unlikely to choose a physician who doesn't use EHRs that are connected to the network.
Ernst & Young: What might health care look like 10 years from now?
Tullman: As the British futurist Arthur C. Clarke said, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
The disconnected health care system of the past will soon be a relic, and the new norm will be a highly accessible, interactive and bidirectional information system. We'll see an explosion of innovation in health care apps, just as we saw when the internet finally connected us. Information technology is the singular tool that has enabled us to prosper in every other industry. Health care is our last frontier, and what will change over the next decade, in my view, is everything.
This article was featured in our report Progressions 2012 - the third place: health care everywhere.