Daniel J Vreeman (2006)
A Physical Therapist’s Guide to the National Health Information Network
PT Magazine, 16(4):28-33.
Imagine you are boarding an airplane for a transcontinental flight. Just before you take your seat the pilot announces overhead that all of the plane’s navigational systems have gone out, but that he will still attempt the flight. Would you want to stay on that plane? Probably not, but yet we practice and receive care in a healthcare system where analogous scenarios are the norm. Healthcare providers and consumers are constantly “flying blind” as they make clinical decisions without health information when and where they need it. The goal of complete and accurate health information following consumers as they traverse the healthcare landscape is at the heart of the current initiatives to develop a National Health Information Network (NHIN). Achieving this goal will require a radical transformation of our current healthcare system. This article outlines the aspects of the NHIN relevant for physical therapy, but recognizes that awareness alone will not automatically lead to transformation. Transformation requires strategic action. Physical therapist clinicians and managers must be active participants in developing the NHIN if we want it to meet our profession’s unique needs, and thus this article also offers some practical suggestions on where we can start.