IT giants team up

Cisco Systems, Intel and Oracle have teamed up to form a consortium of leading technology companies, medical groups and independent practice associations (IPAs) that will reward doctors that use technology to share information and improve patient care.

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By  Angela Sutherland Published  February 7, 2006

Cisco Systems, Intel and Oracle have teamed up to form a consortium of leading technology companies, medical groups and independent practice associations (IPAs) that will reward doctors that use technology to share information and improve patient care. The consortium is unique in that it is employer-led and bands together thousands of employees and healthcare providers working toward a goal of improving healthcare quality. Cisco says the move will accelerate the adoption of health information technology for the safe and highly secure exchange of vital patient records. Access to accurate and up-to-date patient information is critical to the practice of medicine today. Misdiagnoses, contraindicated prescriptions, repeated tests, and a host of other problems often result when physicians do not have access to current information. "Ultimately, it is about employers and physicians working together to improve the quality and safety of care," says Dr. Jeffrey Rideout, MD, Cisco's VP of healthcare, internet business solutions group and corporate medical director. "Creating a system that provides patient information and data as well as the results of medications and treatments will help physicians make the best medical decisions." A critical first initiative for the consortium is implementing a "Pay-for-Performance" program using the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Physician Practice Connections (PPC) program. By establishing rewards for the use of processes and technology, the collaborative hopes to accelerate the transition to electronic health records and the use of automated decision support tools. Such tools can help doctors determine which course of therapy might be best for a particular patient given the latest science and medical and family histories. "A physician backed by a good electronic registry is much more effective and much less likely to make a mistake than one who isn't," says NCQA president Margaret E. O'Kane. "And there is a real efficiency issue too -- a doctor with good information support isn't going to be spending a lot of time tracking down medical histories to see if drug X or drug Y is right for Mr Smith - she'll know right from the start." The consortium came together after participants realised they shared a common goal: Improving information sharing to improve medical care. Consortium participants worked closely to determine the metrics that would be used to reward physicians that participate in the Pay-for-Performance program. Initially, Cisco, Intel and Oracle will pay financial incentives to participants based on measurements in three key categories: Evidence-based care, care management and patient education.

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