President Obama Wise To Invest in Healthcare IT

I shy away from openly discussing politics in my personal and professional life.  But I think it is fair to say that the current administration has abandoned what was once a significant agenda to advance health care information technology.

One could argue that the national defense issues rightly made healthcare IT less of a priority for the executive branch.  Add on top of that the recent national economic woes and I had little reason for optimism that electronic health records would surface as a top political priority for the new administration.

So, I was delighted when the president-elect recently served notice that healthcare reform remains a significant part of his plan:

“We’re also going to focus on one of the biggest long-run challenges that our budget faces, namely the rising cost of health care in both the public and private sectors. This is not just a challenge, but also an opportunity to improve the health care that Americans rely on and to bring down the costs that taxpayers, businesses and families have to pay.”

Moreover, electronic health records are a central component to his healthcare reform plan:

“If we do a smart job of investing in health care modernization — let’s just say, as an example, helping local hospitals and providers set up electronic billing and electronic medical records, that experts across the spectrum consider to be an important step towards a more efficient health care system.

Now, somebody’s got to help set those up. We’ve got to buy computer systems and so forth. That’s an immediate boost to the economy, in some cases working with state and local governments, but it’s also laying the groundwork for reducing our health care costs over the long term.”

Certainly we have a great story to tell in central and northern Wisconsin.  Ministry Health Care and Marshfield Clinic are implementing an EHR setting aside competitive interests to put patients first.  In doing so we will provide integrated care in such a way as to eliminate duplicate testing, actively manage preventive care and eliminate wasteful paper-work.  I believe we are doing exactly the kind of work that the president-elect has advocated.  I strongly support the direction he has described.

I also support president-elect Obama’s baseball affiliation.  Many of you know I am a long-time White Sox fan.  The best day of my life was the surprise 40th birthday party my wife threw for me at then Comiskey park.  So, I enjoyed this exchange between Obama and a Chicago reporter:

“I’m going to call on Steve Thomma. Where’s Steve? And the reason I’m going to call on Steve, I understand that, as a lifelong White Sox fan, you were placed in the Cubs section yesterday, and I want to apologize for that. This is also part of the new way of doing business. When we make mistakes, we admit them.”

Is Enterprise-class WiFi an Oxymoron?

I have never launched a point of care application on wireless devices that has not had immediate and ongoing problems.  Usually the problems are enough to be annoying but not severe enough to scrap the initiative.  Even the highly paid outside network engineers can’t seem to provide me the flawless wireless connectivity that the vendors and trade journals lead me to believe is possible.

Recently I spoke to a group of hospitals on behalf of a consulting friend of mine.  As part of that favor I reviewed a short assessment of each of the 4 hospitals.  All of them had three things in common with our 14 hospitals:

  1. They all cited medication scanning at the point of administration as their top clinical priority.  Our three Affinity hospitals in the Fox valley have implemented this and the others want to join them.
  2. They all cited frustrations with their Carts on Wheels (aka COWs).  I too have yet to find the perfect choice.
  3. They all cited frustrations with wifi reliability in their clinical areas.

I suppose misery loves company.  How did we all buy-in to this enterprise wireless disappointment?

What is your experience?  Does anyone have the secret code?