Well-Designed IT Systems Essential to Healthcare Integration


David Lawrence, MD, retired head of the Kaiser Foundation health plan, says in a recent Information Week article that it will be “nearly impossible” to achieve the goals of healthcare integration without the connectivity of a well-designed health IT system.4 Dr. Lawrence was a member of a committee that authored the recent report Order from Chaos: Accelerating Care Integration for the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Care Safety Foundation. Failures of coordination most often happen during the crucial information transfers that happen during care transitions, but there has not been enough attention to how important information technology could be to these transfers, Dr. Lawrence told the magazine. “It’s the really complex stuff where this becomes particularly critical,” he said.

The federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) took the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to task in a November report for not having adequate oversight or safeguards for its EHR meaningful-use program.5 As a result, OIG described Medicare as “vulnerable” to fraud and abuse of incentive payments made to hospitals and health professionals, according to OIG. OIG recommends that CMS request and review supporting documentation for selected providers and issue guidance with specific examples of appropriate documentation. As of September 2012, CMS had paid out $4 billion in meaningful-use incentives to 1,400 hospitals and 82,000 professionals.


  1. Enguidanos S, Vesper E, Lorenz K. 30-day readmissions among seriously ill older adults. J Palliat Med. 2012;15(12):1356-1361.
  2. The Advisory Board Company. Mastering the cardiovascular care continuum: strategies for bridging divides among providers and across time. The Advisory Board Company website. Available at: http://www.advisory.com/Research/Cardiovascular-Roundtable/Studies/2012/Mastering-the-Cardiovascular-Care-Continuum. Accessed Jan. 8, 2013.
  3. Misky G, Carlson T, Klem P, et al. Development and implementation of a clinical care pathway for acute VTE reduces hospital utilization and cost at an urban tertiary care center [abstract]. J Hosp Med. 2012;7 Suppl 2:S66-S67.
  4. Versel N. Health IT holds key to better care integration. Information Week website. Available at: http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/interoperability/health-it-holds-key-to-better-care-integ/240012443. Accessed Jan. 8, 2013.
  5. Office of Inspector General. Early Assessment Finds That CMS Faces Obstacles in Overseeing the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. Office of Inspector General website. Available at: https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-05-11-00250.asp. Accessed Jan. 8, 2013.

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