The Future of Nursing and Health IT

The Quality Elixir

Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Disclosures

Nurs Econ. 2011;29(5):286-289. 

In This Article

National Quality Strategy

Earlier this year, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius issued the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care (Healthcare.gov, 2011a) as required by the Affordable Care Act. The strategic plan provides a road map for the nation to increase access to high-quality, affordable health care. It builds on work in progress and directs national, state, and local efforts to bring together stakeholders to achieve a system that achieves better outcomes and improved health for all Americans. The three broad aims are better care, healthy people and healthy communities, and affordable care. The plan acknowledges the power of health IT to aid in reducing health care costs, particularly through the use of electronic health records and achieving health information exchange. Steps in the plan reinforce the need for health IT to provide systems that support clinical practice, research, public health, and health of individuals. There is also an expressed desire to promote better use of health IT by engaging clinicians, employers, consumers, and others, and to demonstrate that health IT improves quality.

Success stories published by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality cite the impact of health information technology on increasing access to care, improving quality, and improving efficiency (Au, Felt-Lisk, Anglin, & Clarkwest, 2010). Case examples address improving medication safety, ensuring patients receive timely lifesaving treatments, reducing infections and pressure ulcers, reducing inappropriate use of high-cost services, and helping save costs on pharmaceuticals through use of health IT tools such as decision support, e-prescribing, continuity of care records, and telehealth.

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