Information technology has the power to transform and improve health care access and delivery across Arizona.
That’s according to William Johnson and Ajay Vinze, two professors involved in health information technology at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Johnson is a professor of economics in the School of Health Management and Policy, and Vinze is the Davis Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Advancing Business Through Information Technology.
Both are participating in this week’s Transforming American Healthcare National Symposium in Phoenix.
Johnson gave an update on his Arizona HealthQuery project, a universitycommunity partnership to pool existing health care data on every Arizonan.
The program is in its sixth year, and the goal is to generate community profiles and provide insights on the outcomes of health care.
Johnson directs the program, along with Mary Rimsza, a research professor in the School of Health Management and Policy.
“We now have between 5 million and 6 million people in the database,” he said.
“We also have roughly 30 participating organizations, which range from relatively small group practices to the entire Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System data system, all the major hospital systems, all the community health centers, some of the urgent care people, and on and on.”
The confidential database can be used, for example, to illustrate what is working and isn’t working in the health care delivery system, Johnson said.
“Maybe somebody is treating kids with asthma a certain way that’s got great outcomes, and yet the rest of the group doesn’t even know about it,” he said. “Maybe somebody’s got a way to treat a particular thing that’s working much better than the average.”
Information from the database can help ensure that health care resources are properly allocated, Johnson said.
Information technology is going to play an increasing role in making health care more efficient and consumer-centric, Vinze said.
“When you go to Doctor X, they will have all the (medical) information about you, and when you go to Doctor Y they won’t have to request this information from 10 different sources,” he said.
“What that does is bring tremendous efficiencies in health care delivery, as well as in health care administration. You’ll see there’s a high percentage of health care costs that you can recover simply by bringing business efficiencies to the process.”
Next month, the Arizona Health-e Connection steering committee appointed by Gov. Janet Napolitano will release its road map for incorporating information technology into health care.
“It’s really a fantastic undertaking,” Vinze said. “It’s really going to put Arizona on the front of this health care revolution that’s going on in terms of bringing efficiencies. It’s going to make us a model state from that perspective.”