Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wall Street Journal Letter Revisited

I believe yesterday's Washington Post article The Machinery Behind Health-Care Reform confirms that my Feb. 18, 2009 letter to the editor published in the Wall Street Journal was on the money (yes, that is a pun):

I wrote:

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.

Lobbyists do tend to present the rosiest picture possible to those with the gold. It appears the myths surrounding health IT have been deliberately engineered.

I believe it now essential and indeed socially responsible for our medical professional societies to ensure the administration is aware of the difficulties and potential downsides of health IT.

If the industry lobbyists have only presented one side of the story (and I believe that likely to be the case), then our government has been making critical social re-engineering decisions based on a dangerously and deceptively incomplete picture.

I for one would like an accounting from HIMSS and other lobbyists of exactly what literature and viewpoints they presented to our government officials, especially in recent years, that led to the massive inclusion of funds and the use of government power to enforce rapid timelines (via economic sanctions for non-meaningful users) in H.R. 1 EH , a.k.a. the Economic Recovery Act of 2009 .

I would also like to know what literature was not presented.

-- SS


Jay Andrews said...

Doctors can tap an internal Web site to examine X-rays from a PC anywhere.The digital hospital relies on technology as an integral and fundamental part of its business strategy. It enables organizations to fully realize a hospital’s latent potential for delivering higher quality care in increasingly efficient ways .

Roy M. Poses MD said...

And to see how well an early and much hyped digital hospital proposal worked out, see this newer post:
(Not very well, as you can guess.)

InformaticsMD said...


Did you read my post? Your response is a non sequitur.