The Push for Healthcare IT Must Remain on Track for Patients and Clinicians

If you're a practicing doc, chances are you don't even know the name Dr. David Brailer.  Much is being made of Dr. Brailer's recently announced resignation as Director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology.  Dr. Brailer was appointed by President Bush two years ago to lead a national initiative promising, among other things, an electronic medical record for most Americans by 2014.  The initiative was announced by Bush in his State of the Union address in 2004.  Besides creating the office of the national coordinator, the President's proclamation set in motion a host of committees and activities to help modernize healthcare IT in America.  This includes harmonization of standards for clinical systems to insure interoperability of those systems so healthcare information can be securely accessed and shared no matter where it resides.  This it is said, will help lower healthcare costs, reduce medical errors and improve the quality of care.

I believe Dr. Brailer's departure will have little effect on the progress of things.  With or without the good doctor, this was going to be more of an evolutionary process than a revolutionary one.  The good news is that we have reached the tipping point.  Physicians are not only ready for healthcare IT, they are begging for it.  No longer can we continue to do our work with pencil and paper.  Clinicians just ask for technology that is affordable, reliable, and easy to use; technology that will improve clinical productivity, not diminish it.

If you are among the 80 percent of American doctors who are still using paper records, now is the time to plan your migration to the digital age.  To help you, we've put together some articles and an audiocast that I think you'll enjoy as you begin the journey.  This is not a decision to be taken lightly, but it is a decision that properly planned, will reap rewards for you and your patients.

Bill Crounse, MD  Healthcare Industry Director   Microsoft Healthcare & LIfe Sciences

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