News | January 22, 2008

New Report Focuses on Benefits of Greater 'Openness' in U.S. Healthcare

January 23, 2008 - American healthcare can be greatly improved by embracing “openness” throughout the healthcare arena is the principle finding of a new report, Harnessing Openness to Transform American Health Care, released by the Digital Connections Council (DCC) of the Committee for Economic Development (CED).

CED is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 200 usiness leaders and university presidents.

Several studies noted in the CED report have found that it takes 13-17 years for 14 percent of research findings to get into general medical practice. Harnessing Openness to Transform American Healthcare recommends greater openness through making information available under far less restrictive conditions and increasing the ability of others to contribute to it, so that, for example, research findings are more actively disseminated, become part of medical best practices, and improve patient outcomes.

For this report, the DCC decided to look at how “openness” was being or might usefully be employed throughout the healthcare arena. Bringing greater openness in different parts of the healthcare production chain is believed to lead to substantial benefits by facilitating collaboration, speeding research, stimulating innovation, lowering costs, reducing errors and closing the gap between discovery and treatment delivery.
Areas covered in the report include:

- Biomedical Research - The DCC recommends that the federal research agencies push further by enunciating clear policies favoring openness, funding further work on standards for protocols, formats, terminology and nomenclature that allow the sharing and manipulation of data, and supporting experiments with differing levels of openness to determine the optimal level of openness for research under various scenarios.
- Clinical Trials - The report calls for greater availability of data from trials in electronic form to speed research and detect possible safety problems.
- Electronic Health Records - Harnessing Openness to Transform American Health Care recognizes the need to protect patient privacy and data security if the potential gains from EHR’s are to be realized.
- Medical Devices - The report recommends that the FDA begin an examination of how to benefit from the user-driven innovation while maintaining appropriate oversight for safety and efficacy.

“The United States has long been a leader in medical innovation and treatment. Healthcare continues to grow as a percentage of our economy. Future economic growth will benefit by greater openness in the field. The recommendations in Harnessing Openness to Transform American Health Care provide a way to greater access to information by more people, and more possibilities for them to contribute based on their own expertise and energy. It shows us a path to improve healthcare without great additional expense,” said Charles Kolb, CED President.

For more information: www.ced.org

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