Brailer and Blumenthal Talk Healthcare ITApr 12th, 2010 | By HITECHhelper | Category: health IT, Legislation
by: Patty Enrado
In the April issue of Health Affairs, David Brailer, MD, former head of ONC, conductedan informative Q&A with current ONC chief, David Blumenthal, MD. It was a nice blending of the beginning of ONC and its vision, and the build out of that vision. Brailer, who has walked the walk of Blumenthal, asked insightful questions.
The article provides a deep dive into Blumenthal's philosophy and direction of ONC. There were a few comments that bear highlighting.
Brailer asked about the interplay of health IT policy and health reform debate. Obviously, the interview occurred before the healthcare reform legislation became law. Anyway, it's important to emphasize Blumenthal's response: Healthcare IT exists to support health reform. It is “part of that larger puzzle,” he said. He noted that payment reform and accountability need to be part of the equation, given that the current system is a fee-for-service model. But legislation or not, the industry is moving away from FFS. And that benefits health IT.
I agree with Blumenthal that accountability for performance will make providers more attentive to their performance, and they'll use healthcare IT to impro
ve the quality of care that they provide. Once payment reform actually happens, healthcare IT and healthcare reform will feed off of each other.
Blumenthal brought up the next point during his keynote address at HIMSS10 in Atlanta in early March. He reiterated it more clearly in his interview with Brailer. Years from now we won't be arguing about whether healthcare IT is “desirable or achievable.” He said, “It will just happen.” It’s called progress. Healthcare IT will be a core technical competency with each generation of physicians who graduate from medical schools.
I'm glad Blumenthal brought up the fact that all of this will be moot if we don't gain the trust of patients that our electronic medical records will be secure and our privacy held to the highest level. The federal government needs to take the lead on setting up privacy and security standards.
Lastly, it was important for Blumenthal to emphasize how transparent the process has been to develop standards and meaningful use criteria. ONC has reached out to all stakeholders and taken seriously stakeholder comments, criticisms and recommendations.
Blumenthal acknowledged the great task ahead of him and ONC, but his enthusiasm, sincerity and strong belief in the value of healthcare IT should give us great hope.