Quote Of The Year

Quote Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama and Change - Some Real Differences are Emerging like Using Health IT as an Economic Stimulus!

It looks like there are some really interesting things that are relevant to Australia happening during the Obama transition.

First – as we all know – there is a bit of a crisis of sustainability and quality in the US Healthcare System.

In was therefore good to see the following report a few days ago.

Obama Policymakers Turn to Campaign Tools
Network of Supporters Tapped on Health-Care Issues

By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 4, 2008; A01

Barack Obama's incoming administration has begun to draw on the high-tech organizational tools that helped get him elected to lay the groundwork for an attempt to restructure the U.S. health-care system.

Former senator Thomas A. Daschle, Obama's point person on health care, launched an effort to create political momentum yesterday in a conference call with 1,000 invited supporters culled from 10,000 who had expressed interest in health issues, promising it would be the first of many opportunities for Americans to weigh in.

The health-care mobilization taking shape before Obama even takes office will include online videos, blogs and e-mail alerts as well as traditional public forums. Already, several thousand people have posted comments on health on the Obama transition Web site.

"We'll have some exciting news about town halls, we'll have some outreach efforts in December," Daschle said during the call. And tomorrow, when he appears at a health-care summit with Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) in Denver, Daschle said, "we'll be making some announcements there."

It is the first attempt by the Obama team to harness its vast and sophisticated grass-roots network to shape public policy. Although the president-elect is a long way from crafting actual legislation, he promised during the campaign to make the twin challenge of controlling health-care costs and expanding coverage a top priority in his first term.

Daschle, who is expected to become the next secretary of health and human services, is waging the outreach campaign by marrying old-fashioned Washington-style lobbying and cutting-edge social-networking technologies. Although he has yet to be formally nominated, he has already met with more than 100 insiders, ranging from union leaders and the seniors group AARP to hospital executives and representatives of corporate America.

Much more here:


It seems to me there is no reason why the National Healthcare and Hospitals Commission could not be being a little more innovative in gathering public views than simply asking for submissions and commissioning expert papers. Australians are pretty much as worried about their health system as Americans and would like an easy way to have a say!

Second we have the following rather great idea – Health IT to improve the economy.

Health IT weighed for economic stimulus package

By Paul McCloskey

Published on December 5, 2008

Senate health care leaders are discussing whether to add health information technology to the programs that would be funded under the economic stimulus package now being readied by aides to President-elect Barack Obama and congressional staff members, sources said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to have a broad economic stimulus plan ready for Obama to sign by the time he takes office Jan. 20, and it may be ready earlier. The package, which could inject as much as $500 billion into large public works programs, has led to a scramble to identify projects that would create jobs and spur economic growth.

Transportation infrastructure and green energy top the list of projects being considered. But using the bill to encourage adoption of health IT, the goal of several nearly successful attempts to pass health IT legislation this year, is also being weighed, health care officials said.

One strategy would be to attach the Wired for Health Care Quality Act to the stimulus legislation, congressional sources said. The Wired bill, which failed to pass the Senate this summer, created incentives for health IT adoption and addressed several security and privacy problems that had long delayed action on the bill.

At the annual conference of the e-Health Initiative in Washington this week, health policy leaders voiced caution about driving health IT adoption through a big financial stimulus program.

Dr. Mark McClellan, director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution, said health IT financing is most productive when tied to specific standards, or functional and performance requirements focused on health outcomes.

Although direct financing of health IT is one way to raise levels of health IT adoption, he said, “I’m not sure that, by itself, it would lead to better care,” McClellan said.

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a medical internist, warned that standards and uses of systems underwritten by a stimulus would have to be widely tested and accepted before purchasing started.

“In theory it’s a great idea,” Dean said. “We would just have to make damn sure the system works before we do it.”

ore here:


I just love the idea – certainly makes justifying the hoped for spend a bit easier!

Third we have this

Obama to broaden role of genetics in medical care


Associated Press Writer Fri Nov 28, 1:58 pm ET

WASHINGTON – For years, scientists have held out hope that the rapidly evolving field of genetics could transform medical diagnosis and treatment, moving beyond a trial-and-error approach as old as the Hippocratic Oath.

But the vision of individualized treatment based on a patient's genetic makeup and other biological markers has yet to materialize, even if better use of genetic information has led to advances in cancer care and other areas.

Now the pursuit of "personalized medicine" is expected to get a major push from the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama. As a senator, Obama introduced legislation to coordinate the sometimes conflicting policies of government agencies and provide more support for private research. He remains keen on the idea.

"The president-elect has indicated his support for both advancing personalized medicine and increasing (research) funding," said Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, D-R.I., who has introduced legislation in the House that builds on Obama's.

Obama is also interested in the role that personalized medicine could play as an element of changes in the broader health care system.

"The issue of getting the right treatment to the right person goes with his whole emphasis on health reform," said Mark McClellan, a noted Republican health care expert who served President George W. Bush as Medicare director and head of the Food and Drug Administration. "If we're thinking about reforming the health care system, we should be thinking about what medicine will be like down the road when health care reform is fully implemented," McClellan said.

Much more detail here:


This approach to medicine is clearly part of the future – and really relies on detailed electronic records to work as hoped for. More stimulus to invest.

One can really sense there is serious change around as major papers run articles such as this.

U.S. 'Not Getting What We Pay For'

Many Experts Say Health-Care System Inefficient, Wasteful

By Ceci Connolly

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, November 30, 2008; A01

Talk to the chief executives of America's preeminent health-care institutions, and you might be surprised by what you hear: When it comes to medical care, the United States isn't getting its money's worth. Not even close.

"We're not getting what we pay for," says Denis Cortese, president and chief executive of the Mayo Clinic. "It's just that simple."

"Our health-care system is fraught with waste," says Gary Kaplan, chairman of Seattle's cutting-edge Virginia Mason Medical Center. As much as half of the $2.3 trillion spent today does nothing to improve health, he says.

Not only is American health care inefficient and wasteful, says Kaiser Permanente chief executive George Halvorson, much of it is dangerous.

Those harsh assessments illustrate the enormousness of the challenge that awaits President-elect Barack Obama, who campaigned on the promise to trim the average American family's health-care bill by $2,500 a year. Delivering on that pledge will not be easy, particularly at a time when the economic picture continues to worsen.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has already warned that improving and expanding health care will cost money in the short run -- money that his Republican counterpart, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), argues the government does not have.

Much more here:


We are certainly living in exciting times to see how all this energy plays out. Well I hope!



Anonymous said...

Looks like Obama's transition team must have been reading the 'Pebble in the Pond' paper from CHIK. The paper highlights the economic cost of errors and the cost of inefficiencies in the healthcare system which could be alleviated by appropriate use of health-IT.

The discussion paper also makes the point that... "Investment in health reform and e-health will lift labour force participation and productivity and increase economic growth and GDP. It is time this link is recognised and for health and e-health to take their rightful place as key national priorities".

Aus HIT Man said...

I would be certain CHIK's paper went totally unnoticed by the Obama team.

All it does is replicate virtually every other commentary on Health IT written in the last decade. My view is that the CHIK document is pretty lightweight - your mileage may vary!


Anonymous said...

Election lead-up promises anywhere hold little water in the current climate. Unfortunately, whilst IT will streamline efficiencies in the delivery of health information and improve communications it does not create a lot of jobs. Therefore it is highly unlikely that we will see anything more than a token amount, if any, of the vast sums being handed out by Governments to stimulate economies and bail out troubled companies, being directed at ehealth IT. A bit for national infrastructure like broadband maybe - not much else. Governments will have to rely more on the private sector to expand ehealth in the market place.

Anonymous said...

I fear the comment of Friday, December 12, 2008 6:55:00 is right on the money (if that is an appropriate expression to use in the current climes.

I don't think relying on the private sector will be of much help here. Businesses are streeeettttched. How many health software vendors are prepared, or even in a position, to invest for the long haul for tomorrow, today? I submit - none. The imperatives of having to focus on political survival and financial constraints when combined with the unpredictability of what DOHA could do in the face of the enormous pressures being imposed by the Government's health reform agenda, all point to the likelihood of stagnation for any major ehealth reform initiatives for the foreseeable future, even though logic says they are badly needed. Votes and jobs will win the day