A Data-Powered Revolution in Health Care | The White House

Todd Park

May 28, 201312:40 PM EDT

Thomas Friedman’s New York Times column, Obamacare’s Other Surprise, highlights a rising tide of innovation that has been unleashed by the Affordable Care Act and the Administration’s health IT and data initiatives. Supported by digital data, new data-driven tools, and payment policies that reward improving the quality and value of care, doctors, hospitals, patients, and entrepreneurs across the nation are demonstrating that smarter, better, more accessible, and more proactive care is the best way to improve quality and control health care costs.   

We are witnessing the emergence of a data-powered revolution in health care. Catalyzed by the Recovery Act, adoption of electronic health records is increasing dramatically. More than half of all doctors and other eligible providers and nearly 80 percent of hospitals are using electronic health records to improve care, an increase of more than 200 percent since 2008. In addition, the Administration’s Health Data Initiative is making a growing supply of key government data on everything from hospital charges and quality to regional health care system performance statistics freely available in computer-readable, downloadable form, as fuel for innovation, entrepreneurship, and discovery.

As Friedman describes, these trends, combined with efforts under the Affordable Care Act to change how we pay health care providers to better reward improving the quality and value of care, are creating a “new marketplace and platform for innovation.” Entrepreneurs and innovators across the country are developing and deploying new data-powered IT tools to help clinicians succeed at delivering better care at lower cost.

These tools are giving clinicians the ability to measure how they are doing, compare how they are doing relative to others, and set and meet goals. They are enabling clinicians to analyze their patient population, understand who needs help (including and especially patients who haven’t been able to come into their office), and proactively reach out and give those patients the care they need. They are helping clinicians and patients get the latest and greatest evidence-based, life-saving best practices at their fingertips. And much more.

Many of the entrepreneurs and innovators who are driving this revolution will be joining us and leaders from across the health care system next week at the fourth annual Health Datapalooza, a national celebration of data-powered innovation in health care.

We are beginning to see what happens when you unleash the power of American innovators and data to transform health care for the better from the ground up.  It’s no surprise to the doctors, hospitals, patients and entrepreneurs who have been working so hard to improve health care. But it is, indeed, great news for the nation.

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Todd Park is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer.