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.”