On Friday, the National Research Council released a pre-publication version of their report: Computational Technology for Effective Health Care: Immediate Steps and Strategic Directions. This report is important for two reasons:
- It is produced by an unbiased organization that is known for critical thinking on any number of topics.
- Comes at a critical time for HIT as many look to the new administration’s Health Stimulus package and purported funding of $25B targeting HIT.
This report has the strong potential to frame what that HIT stimulus package might look like, e.g., focusing more on incentives (quality) and tax breaks to promote HIT adoption rather than grants and handouts. The report is particularly critical of federal programs that focus on a single application rather than looking at the continuum of care. This is one point on which I disagree. Sometimes, we need to walk before we can run. This industry sector is so low on the HIT adoption curve, that any initiatives that can get physicians to begin using HIT as a normal course of clinical care is a good start. Granted, long-term the country needs a strategy that focuses more broadly on the delivery of cost-effective, quality care, but today, we need docs to simply begin using the stuff.
That does mean letting vendors have a free ride. Much of the EMR software in the market today is junk, focusing more on transactional processes than delivering the best care possible and no CCHIT is doing nothing to weed out the junk, in fact, it may just perpetuate its existence if junk can pass the interop scenarios.