Kevin Hutchinson, president and chief executiveofficer of SureScripts, looks forward to servingas 1 of 16 American Health Information Community(AHIC) commissioners. "It is an honor to representthe pharmacy and medical laboratoriescommunities in what we call ancillary services," he said about his 2-year appointment. The AHIC,created by Mike Leavitt, secretary of the Departmentof Health and Human Services, is the federallychartered commission charged with the taskof advising the department on how to meet theBush administration's goal of transitioning healthcare from the paper age to the information age.
"I share the views of Michael Leavitt on movinghealth care forward.We are all patients, andwe understand the implications of health careand improvements that need to be made," commentedHutchinson. During AHIC's first meeting,Leavitt told the commissioners "this communitywill be one of action and move the ball forwardson what we call breakthroughs."
"This group is about progress: serious, measurable,urgent progress toward meeting the President'sgoal of electronic health records beingavailable to Americans, and the power of electronichealth records to make the health care systempatient-centered and safer," stated Leavitt inhis opening remarks of the group's first meeting.
Referring to the group's work ahead as "solvinga puzzle," Leavitt said 14 potential breakthroughshave been identified in 3 general areas:consumer empowerment, health improvement,and public health protection. Examples of breakthroughsin each area may include an on-linemedication list for patients who want their physiciansto know what medications they are taking;the creation of a childhood immunization registryfor parents and physicians; improved biosurveillanceto protect the United States from both pandemicsand bioterrorism.
Task forces, who will report into AHIC, will becreated for each breakthrough being studied.Each task force will be cochaired by one representativefrom a public company and 1 representativefrom a private company serving on AHIC,according to Hutchinson.
Electronic health records will be a componentof some of the breakthroughs. Hutchinson pointedout that electronic prescribing (e-prescribing)is a step towards electronic health records, butnoted that everything needs to be done in stepsand stages. "There is an overwhelming agreementwithin the community [AHIC] that e-prescribingis the low hanging fruit because it isavailable and being used."