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A survey of nearly 300 leading health experts puts increasing information technology as the third highest health care priority for Congress to address in the next five years. In Commonwealth Fund’s ninth annual online survey of health experts, four-fifths of respondents deemed increasing IT to improve quality of care as “absolutely essential” or “very important.”

The top priority was expanding coverage for the uninsured, deemed at least “very important” by 88 percent of respondents. Enacting reforms to moderate health care spending and ensuring Medicare’s long-term solvency were also deemed high priorities by 81 percent and 80 percent of the respondents, respectively.

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The survey asked similar questions two years ago, and expanding coverage for the uninsured ranked the highest then as well; 87 percent of respondents named it as a top 5 priority. “Improving the safety and quality of care, including increased use of information technology,” captured second place, named by 69 percent as a top 5 priority. No other priorities were named by more than 50 percent of respondents.

Those surveyed in the more recent survey were also asked to rank how effective several different strategies would be for reducing the cost of care. Seventy-five percent said reducing inappropriate care would be “extremely” or “very” effective, 69 percent said to use evidence-based measures to determine whether a test should be done, 66 percent said to use more disease management strategies, 66 percent said increased use of information technology, 61 percent said to reward physicians who provide higher quality or more efficient care, and 57 percent said to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Experts were recruited from academia and research organizations; health care delivery; business, insurance and other health industries; and government and advocacy groups. The survey was delivered e-mail to a panel of 1,246 opinion leaders in health policy and innovators in health care delivery and finance; 289 responded.

Full results of the survey can be found here.

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