I have to say I am glad the US Election Season is over and we have some certainty as to the shape the future US Administration. (Without overstating the facts – I was no fan of the last lot or the prospect of Ms Palin anywhere near control of the US nuclear arsenal!)
What do we know?
First we have:
Posted: November 6, 2008 - 5:59 am EDT
President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to help defray the cost of healthcare reform by capturing the expected savings that health information technology can create may have bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, but could slip in priority because of pressing concerns over the economy and complicated issues overseas.
On the campaign trail, Obama hailed the promise that electronic health records hold for both safety and speed in delivering care. He lauded EHR systems’ ability to lower costs as well, and hinted that federal dollars could be used to help spur widespread adoption.
“We are going to invest in information technology to eliminate bureaucracy and make the system more efficient,” he said during the final debate with Republican challenger Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)—also a proponent of health IT.
Already, powerful leaders in the House say they are hopeful that new and existing bills could gain traction early next year, but are also aware that turf battles and a growing list of domestic and foreign-policy initiatives could move to the top of the list, according to Capitol Hill sources.
And we have comments here:
By Diana Manos, Senior Editor 11/05/08
Healthcare leaders expressed optimism with Tuesday's victory of President elect Barack Obama and are encouraged by his promise of $10 billion a year over five years to advance healthcare IT adoption to reduce healthcare costs and improve quality of care.
David Brailer, a former federal healthcare IT czar who has offered to advise Obama, said prior to Tuesday that no matter who wins, digital medicine – electronic records, plug-and-play connectivity, telemedicine and new portability and privacy rules – will continue to see progress in the United States.
These innovations will make reform of the healthcare finance and organization easier, cheaper and more effective, he said.
"This is truly a historic moment for our country, and for the world as well," he said.
Tullman, who served on Obama's campaign healthcare advisory panel, said "Obama is good for America and good for healthcare." He anticipates Obama will emphasize the use of electronic tools to improve quality and reduce costs in healthcare. In the current economy, the industry will likely go after electronic health records and e-prescribing as the least expensive way to make these changes initially, he said.
Tullman said the president-elect has a good understanding of healthcare IT.
"This is a very exciting time for healthcare, to have a visionary president who understands the promise and power of healthcare IT – and he does," Tullman said.
Martin Jensen, a healthcare consultant with the Healthcare IT Transition Group said, "I was pleased to see that healthcare IT actually made the cut when Senator Obama was selecting topics for his 30-minute Obamamercial. There seems to be a strong bipartisan consensus that healthcare IT can save money and improve quality, and I think we can expect HIT to be a big part of Obama's healthcare reform package."
Much more here:
And here advice from a range of commentators:
Posted: November 7, 2008 - 5:59 am EDT
Presidencies end with criticism, but begin with advice.
President-elect Barack Obama began Wednesday receiving national intelligence briefings and met this morning with an ad hoc committee of financial advisers. So, we’re not jumping the gun by surveying a sample of healthcare leaders about their expectations as well as their advice for an Obama administration in promoting healthcare IT.
Matt King is a physician and chief medical officer of Clinica Adelante, a community health center in the Phoenix area. He is the chairman and director of WorldVistA, a not-for-profit organization promoting the use outside the Veterans Affairs Department of an open-source version of its public domain VistA clinical IT system. King recalled that both Obama and his defeated challenger, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), included healthcare information technology as part of their plans for healthcare reform.
“I know that President Obama noted healthcare as one of his top four priorities,” King said. “The real question is going to be how much is going to be in the budget, given the weak economy. Extending healthcare would have to include a fairly aggressive transition to healthcare IT. Assuming nothing catastrophic happens to the economy, I think it’s going to be a funding priority. I think they’re pretty interested in innovations.”
King said WorldVistA leaders are “very happy” with the Health-e Information Technology Act of 2008, a piece of pending legislation sponsored by Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, that calls for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to coordinate the development of an open-source software system for healthcare as a low-cost alternative for safety net providers. It specifically mentions VistA as a possible model.
“I think it’s going to be a good four years for open source,” King said.
King said that to demonstrate the power of VistA in his WorldVistA presentations, he uses a chart originally published in 2007 in the Washington Post showing inflation in per capita healthcare spending for VA beneficiaries compared with those same numbers for Medicare and all healthcare recipients between 1996 and 2004. The chart shows almost a flat line for cost increases of less than 1% for VA patients over the period, but a 45-degree angle for Medicare beneficiaries, whose costs increased nearly 45% over the period, and a line nearly as steep for the average person, whose costs went up nearly 40%.
“It is pretty jaw-dropping,” King said.
Additional view from others here:
It is to be hoped when we finally see the e-Health policy published for Australia that it will similarly find firm committed backing (and some funds) from our national government. We will know soon enough I suspect if some real investment is coming – the deferred COAG meeting in late November / early December will tell I suspect.