By Mary Branham Dusenberry
There’s value in having the right data at the right time at the right place.
That’s the goal of health information technology, said Brian Russon, a strategist for the Health Solutions Group at Microsoft Corporation.
Russon likened today’s health care system to a barbell, with two groups heavily involved in their health—those who utilize the system due to major illness and those who are healthy and are very proactive in their health. The majority of the population, he said, falls in the middle—those who are not highly engaged in the health care system.
“We’ve got a health care system that hasn’t driven the financial burden down to the consumer,” he said.
But that is likely to change, he said. When that happens, people will become much more engaged in their health care, and they’ll need some way to manage that information. Microsoft has developed Health Vault, a consumer-driven health care management program for just that purpose.
But all the information is in silos. Software programs like Health Vault help consumers manage their health care information—from all their medical care providers and from consumer-driven information like regular blood pressure checks and exercise information.
“The focus is on empowering people in unprecedented ways,” said Russon.
While people can build their health care history in programs like Health Vault—which is offered free in the U.S.—Russon said a successful health information technology model won’t happen until consumers have full access to their health information.
“The value of health care data is not in the data itself,” he said. “The value is in the application layer that exists in the data.”
But the ability to apply the data will depend on breaking down silos and not building new ones.
“We need to make sure all the data gets connected in the right way,” he said.
State government will play a key role in ensuring that happens, according to Russon. He said there will continue to be legislation at the federal and state levels to create standards and ensure the data is interoperable.
In addition, he said, states are players as well through Medicaid and Medicare systems.
“It benefits all of us to have a fully interoperable system,” said Russon.