A letter I wrote in response to the Wall Street Journal's "A Health-Tech Monopoly", Feb. 11, 2009 was published yesterday, Feb. 18, under the header Digitizing Medical Records May Help, but It's Complex.
Dear Wall Street Journal:
You observe that the true political goal is socialized medicine facilitated by health care information technology. You note that the public is being deceived, as the rules behind this takeover were stealthily inserted in the stimulus bill.
I have a different view on who is deceiving whom. In fact, it is the government that has been deceived by the HIT industry and its pundits. Stated directly, the administration is deluded about the true difficulty of making large-scale health IT work. The beneficiaries will largely be the IT industry and IT management consultants.
For £12.7 billion the U.K., which already has socialized medicine, still does not have a working national HIT system, but instead has a major IT quagmire, some of it caused by U.S. HIT vendors.
HIT (with a few exceptions) is largely a disaster. I'm far more concerned about a mega-expensive IT misadventure than an IT-empowered takeover of medicine.
The stimulus bill, to its credit, recognizes the need for research on improving HIT. However this is a tool to facilitate clinical care, not a cybernetic miracle to revolutionize medicine. The government has bought the IT magic bullet exuberance hook, line and sinker.
I can only hope patients get something worthwhile for the $20 billion.
Scot Silverstein, M.D.
Drexel University Institute for Healthcare Informatics
This short piece carried many of the themes in my Healthcare Renewal post "Triumph of Hope Over Experience" department: Healthcare IT as totalitarian tool?"
I have had several inquiries about the issues I present in the WSJ letter. More detail can be found in my Drexel website "Common Examples of Healthcare IT Difficulty" here.
As will be seen in my series of posts on the user interaction horrors that are today's mainstream vendor EHR products, I don't make these opinions up.