Not long ago, emergency rooms, doctor’s offices and other facilities were primarily paper-based. Times have changed. As of last year:

  • 74 percent of physicians have adopted electronic health records

  • 96.9 percent of hospitals have adopted electronic health records

  • Nearly 4 in 10 health care providers offered patients access to their electronic health records, and, of that, more than half accessed these records at least once.

We have come a long way, and we must build upon our success to create a more user-friendly experience for individuals seeking care and the providers supporting their care.

Connecting for care

The future of health IT is one where electronic health information is unlocked and securely, yet seamlessly shared to achieve better, more person-centered care, smarter spending and healthier people. It is a future where, when your parent is unexpectedly admitted to the emergency room when visiting, their doctor in their home state immediately receives an electronic notification—and another when they are discharged or transferred.

It is a future where individuals and their health care providers can download apps to access electronic health information and streamlined care as easily as an app helps you get a ride, or your bank app lets you check your account from your smartphone. It is a future where we can aggregate health data to tell the long-term health story of a person or a community. And, it is a future that allows us to reward quality care—not just quantity of care.

It is a future that is near because of the dramatic success of health IT adoption in this nation over the past six years. We have tripled adoption of electronic health records and virtually every hospitalization has a digital footprint.

Getting to better

But we have work to do. To make this vision a reality, the public and private sectors must work together and commit to create an open, connected health system where:

  • Consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community.

  • Health care providers share individuals’ health information for care with other providers and their patients whenever permitted by law, and not block electronic health information (defined by knowingly and unreasonably interfering with information sharing).

  • Everyone moves to implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance and practices for electronic health information, and adopt best practices including those related to privacy and security.