Health IT Gone Mainstream? – Who Woulda Thunk?

I look at the news swirling around me about healthcare information technology being one of the BIG 5 PRIORITIES for our new President with a mix of shock, awe, and actually, maybe a little bit of apprehension. While it is incredibly exciting to see one’s professional passion validated on such a grand level, the buzz around health IT and the feeding frenzy around the money likely to be allocated to health IT as part of the economic stimulus bill winding its way through Congress are almost disconcerting.

No doubt in my mind—a new day is about to dawn for healthcare as we know it in this country. A governmental commitment at this kind of level really can be a game-changer in terms of our industry confronting the challenges that have kept it from really adopting technology on a large scale in a meaningful way. The value propositions, the drivers to adopt clinical information systems, the desire to embrace health information exchanges (despite things like competitive roadblocks and standards-related concerns) all are fundamentally altered in a very positive manner.

But I worry, with everyone just going after this big pot of money, will the overarching goals of the stimulus dollars are striving for be compromised? We need to make sure the upcoming health IT cash infusion is driven by a grand strategy to truly improve outcomes and medical resource utilization by integrating clinical systems as well as seamlessly sharing digital data and for ensuring across all manner of enterprises. We need to focus on areas where these dollars can have the greatest impact on patients, above all else. Without us vigilantly keeping our eye on the clinical quality excellence ball, this whole initiative could risk becoming a massive boondoggle to a handful of corporate entities.

I have reviewed the legislation and am impressed with the focus and knowledge of the program that seems to permeate the current iteration of the bill. I hope we stick to this, get it passed, and help health IT realize the almost limitless potential that it can offer society. And, oh yeah, I will want to learn quickly the logistics of getting some of that grant money for my own major health IT initiatives!

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