Date:  May 23, 2011




Experts Explore Digital Technologies' Potential to Improve Health Care


WASHINGTON — Digital technology is transforming many arenas, including health care. The new proceedings of a series of workshops held by the Institute of Medicine in 2010 presents the insights and perspectives of a range of experts on what is necessary to enable health care professionals and organizations to harness the full potential of new digital technologies to increase efficiency and generate and apply knowledge to real-time care decisions. 


The workshops were convened in recognition of the growing use of smartphones, tablets, electronic health records, and other digital technologies in hospitals and clinics and the potential for these devices to support a continuously improving "learning health system" in which knowledge gleaned from past events is used to guide future decisions.  The series brought together researchers, computer scientists, privacy experts, clinicians, health care administrators, health IT professionals, representatives of patient advocacy groups, policymakers, and other stakeholders to discuss the principles needed to guide national efforts to develop the digital elements of a learning health system.


Workshop participants noted several areas that warrant follow-up, including analyses of the potential health and economic returns, consensus on standards and quality measures, and consistent patient identification across the system.  They also discussed benefits of a cooperative approach to determining and implementing governing principles, priorities, system specifications, and cooperative strategies. 


The workshop series was convened by IOM's Roundtable on Value and Science-Driven Health Care with support from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  As a recap of the discussions, the summary presents the views and ideas of individual participants and does not contain recommendations or position statements from the IOM. 


Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public.  The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  For more information, visit or 



Christine Stencel, Senior Media Relations Officer

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail


Additional resources:

Workshop Highlights
Project Website  

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