The key phrase is this:
At this crucial moment [in healthcare IT] , Health Affairs devotes its forthcoming March-April 2009 issue to health IT—its transformative promise, but also the challenges to its adoption and the substantial dangers it could pose if that adoption is not done right. The issue will be released at a briefing on Tuesday, March 10, at the JW Marriott in Washington , D.C.
/Semi tongue-in-cheek tone ON
... This sounds a lot like what I've been writing and taking heat for, for the past ten years:
While clinical IT is now potentially capable of achieving many of the benefits long claimed for it such as improved medical quality and efficiency, reduced costs, better medical research and drugs, earlier disease detection, and so forth, there is a major caveat and essential precondition: the benefits will be realized only if clinical IT is done well. For if clinical IT is not done well, as often occurs in today’s environment of medical quick fixes and seemingly unquestioning exuberance about IT, the technology can be injurious to medical practice and biomedical R&D, and highly wasteful of scarce healthcare capital and resources. Those two short words “done well” mask an underlying, profound, and, as yet, largely unrecognized (or ignored) complexity.
The reason I call this story another possible "human bites dog" scenario (the first being here) is due to the speaker's list below.
I certainly didn't. The press releases and seminars I attended by those organizations and the articles and advertisements I saw in journals always seemed to present HIT as a magic bullet, a panacea, a cybernetic miracle with no downsides, a plug and play solution to healthcare's ills.
I ponder this: a Google search on "Healthcare IT Failure" or similar concept turns up my web site and a few other writings on this issue, but precious little from the likes of Cerner, Microsoft, Markle, Google Inc., etc.
Google's search engine must be wrong! It's not listing all the links from these organizations going back years on the possible dangers of ill conceived and poorly implemented HIT. Someone call the Googleplex!
In fact, I authored an AMIA poster in '06 on this curious phenomenon, that search engine queries on the concept of healthcare information technology failure (a form of IT misadventure or IT malpractice) returned my website and writings and a few others' work, while a search on "medical malpractice" returned tons and tons of relevant hits:
Access Patterns to a Website on Healthcare IT Failure. AMIA 2006 Poster. Abstract [pdf], Poster [ppt].
(Even at AMIA the word "failure" in the same sentence as "Healthcare IT" did not seem to go over well, and the site now wears the term "difficulty" instead of the "F" word.)
When I spoke to representatives of some of these organizations about my work and similar work of others studying HIT failure, I received disdain at best, and at worst the response was as if I had lost my senses - or something.
Maybe these organizations were just afraid to tell me ten year's work was simply redundant, as their leaders -- through critical thinking, scholarly examination of the evidence, and candid corporate wide discussion -- had discovered these issues years before.
There are some known candid speakers at the briefing as well. The announcement is below:
Save The Date: HEALTH AFFAIRS Briefing
Here are the details:
I conclude by wondering exactly what's caused some of these HIT cheerleaders to "get religion" about the possible dark sides of health IT.
The possible change of heart on this formerly proscribed topic puzzles me.