Introducing the sharp mind of David Hartzband!

At Rural Health IT Corporation (RHITC) we are privileged and honored to work with David Hartzband!

As a consultant to RHITC Hartzband brings his impressive background to every discussion. For eleven years Hartzband has been a Research Affiliate to Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT). He is also Director of the RCHN Community Health Foundation. RCHN CHF is a non-profit foundation that works with Federally Qualified Health Centers on issues of access to care, technology adoption and funding research in healthcare policy.

When Hartzband is not working on ideas for new information technology solutions or teaching the bright minds of tomorrow, we call on him to help us do better. To create the best health information technology takes a team of determined visionaries.

Recently, Hartzband wrote an article on what the next ten years of healthcare information technology are going to look like.

Here is an excerpt from Hartzband’s article

“Let’s talk about functional & workflow interoperability. This is important because of a large number of data & information sources that healthcare organizations will need to access in order to be able to operate in the near-future care environment. As care transition becomes more & more important (& measured as part of pay-for-quality systems), the ability to share application function & user workflows across organizations will need to be addressed. eReferral is more than just sending a Direct message out into space (even if that space includes dual-endpoint identity verification). It requires the ability to seamlessly pass off data, functional capability & a shared workflow to the consultant & to receive it back. 

Let’s talk about learning for a minute. I wrote about the learning healthcare system back in 2014 . At that time, I discussed what a learning system might be, what work had been done historically & what types of systems already existed. In that piece, I wrote, “…learning can be thought of as “the ability to develop new knowledge & strategies for using that knowledge based on an understanding of current & previous results & information”. 

This ability is continuous & ongoing, the implication for a healthcare system is that whenever an actor (provider, patient, caregiver) is using a part of the system, the system is moderating the user’s context (usage) & anticipates what information & analysis may be relevant. The system may then give the user the opportunity to request this information; which can be a diagnosis, treatment suggestions, data on treatment, analysis of alternatives, public health implications, information & recommendations on amelioration of social determinants & many other possibilities.” This seems like a lot, so let’s break it down into what capabilities such a system would have to have:

  • Ability to identify context (patient interaction, diagnosis process, provider request, patient request, research request, etc.) & identify information & analysis relevant to this context
  • Ability to access to substantial amounts of both healthcare & non-healthcare related data
  • Ability to analyze & interpret this information in useful ways
  • Use of statistical & BItype analyses
  • Use of analytics for ultra-large dataset analysis (structured & unstructured data)
  • Formation of hypotheses & hypothesis testing
  • Ability to make recommendations in multiple contexts (clinical, operational, financial,…) using these analyses
  • A user experience level that works for multiple contexts & user types (providers, researchers, patients, caregivers, public health & policy workers, etc.)


The bottom line is that we have the possibility of creating a useful & effective HIT ecosystem by 2024, but to do so we need to stop emphasizing the recording & scoring of quality measures, meaningful use criteria, PCMH requirements, etc. All of these measures are a part of how we think about healthcare information system, but they are not the core reason to develop & use them. 

If we keep emphasizing that the core reason for the development & use of these systems is the improve patient & population health, & we emphasize those things that are commensurate with that goal, we’ll have intelligent, interoperable systems that provide care with high measurable quality & low(er) cost without having to impose HIT systems designed to enforce policy requirements that do not always align with long-term care improvement.”

You can read the full article on Hartzband's blog HERE