While the health care reform community is focused on President George W. Bush’s imminent veto of the children's health insurance bill, a major announcement about Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) has evaded the spotlight.
Sidney Taurel, CEO of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly put forth a call for development of a health information technology system. His proposed system would be a collaborative effort of both public and private sectors and would involve the U.S. government, the health care industry and the medical community as active participants.
The aim is tracking both actual effectiveness and side effects of drugs that have been released into the market. This "real world" data will enhance the safety profile of drugs first established through standard drug trials.
CNNMoney reports on Taurel's address at the Cleveland Clinic:
Although traditional drug trials will continue to test new hypotheses about medicines after they have reached the market, Taurel outlined how a well-functioning health IT system could serve not only to frame hypotheses for so-called "Phase IV" clinical research, but also become the practical equivalent of massive, real-world trials. Such a system would collect detailed data from day-to-day medical practices and feed insights quickly, seamlessly and at a lower cost to doctors, regulators, and drug manufacturers. The result would be a more accurate picture of a drug's safety and efficacy than exists today.Once again we see the importance of developing portable, transparent records as Kaiser-Permanente CEO George Halvorson outlines in his book, Health Care Reform Now!
The CNNMoney article goes on to describe the current collaboration along these lines:
Taurel explained that as EMR systems build out, they provide what amounts to a 'commons' in which organizations can collaborate to share health information.SOURCE: "Lilly’s CEO Calls For Reform of Nation’s Drug Safety System" 10/02/07
For example, Lilly, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson are collaborating with 'e-Health Initiative' - a not-for-profit health information technology group - as well as with the Indiana Health Information Exchange and the Partners Healthcare System in Boston. The goal is to test how safety signals can be located and understood using existing data, potentially leading to a better understanding of the risk and benefits of medicines.
photo courtesy of Uh…Bob