/publications/issue/2005/2005-11/2005-11-5006

AHIC Sets Goals

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Kevin Hutchinson, president and chief executive officer of SureScripts, looks forward to serving as 1 of 16 American Health Information Community (AHIC) commissioners. "It is an honor to represent the pharmacy and medical laboratories communities in what we call ancillary services," he said about his 2-year appointment. The AHIC, created by Mike Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, is the federally chartered commission charged with the task of advising the department on how to meet the Bush administration's goal of transitioning health care from the paper age to the information age.

"I share the views of Michael Leavitt on moving health care forward.We are all patients, and we understand the implications of health care and improvements that need to be made," commented Hutchinson. During AHIC's first meeting, Leavitt told the commissioners "this community will be one of action and move the ball forwards on what we call breakthroughs."

"This group is about progress: serious, measurable, urgent progress toward meeting the President's goal of electronic health records being available to Americans, and the power of electronic health records to make the health care system patient-centered and safer," stated Leavitt in his opening remarks of the group's first meeting.

Referring to the group's work ahead as "solving a puzzle," Leavitt said 14 potential breakthroughs have been identified in 3 general areas: consumer empowerment, health improvement, and public health protection. Examples of breakthroughs in each area may include an on-line medication list for patients who want their physicians to know what medications they are taking; the creation of a childhood immunization registry for parents and physicians; improved biosurveillance to protect the United States from both pandemics and bioterrorism.

Task forces, who will report into AHIC, will be created for each breakthrough being studied. Each task force will be cochaired by one representative from a public company and 1 representative from a private company serving on AHIC, according to Hutchinson.

Electronic health records will be a component of some of the breakthroughs. Hutchinson pointed out that electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is a step towards electronic health records, but noted that everything needs to be done in steps and stages. "There is an overwhelming agreement within the community [AHIC] that e-prescribing is the low hanging fruit because it is available and being used."