Data is the lifeblood of the value-based payment environment. Every time a doctor takes care of a patient, we have an opportunity to use information in ways that help patients get better care. The goal is to use the information from each patient encounter to make the next encounter better — across the entire health care system. But it is easier said than done. As we prepare to transition from this administration, we’d like to take stock of what our nation has accomplished and to lay out a potential roadmap for the next administration.
Making data easy to use begins by putting it into secure, private, digital form. During the past seven years, we’ve made remarkable progress towards this goal: in 2015, over 77 percent of office-based physicians reported using a certified electronic health record (EHR) to inform clinical care, while the percentage of office-based physicians with any EHR has doubled since 2008. As we hoped, digital tools have helped us reduce medical errors by, for example, e-prescribing and having fewer follow-up items fall between the cracks. But we still have a lot of work to do.