Dr. David Blumenthal did an interview with John Gilroy of SolutionsDevelopers for Federal Tech Talk Radio. The interview provides a great overview of how Dr. Blumenthal rose to his position of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology with a background of medicine, health policy, and research. As someone who comes from the primary care provider’s point of view, he understands the reluctance of physicians to move to an EHR, but conveys that it’s the ONC’s job to convince physicians and hospitals that EHRs are the way of the not so distant future and it’s a worthwhile endeavor. While EHR adoption does have its challenges, Dr. Blumenthal explains that it’s worth the start-up costs and initial workflow disruption. In fact, he states that in a 2008 survey of physicians, 17% had adopted EHRs, and of this 17%, 90% were satisfied with their EHR system.
Dr. Blumenthal further discusses the specifics of the provisions under the HITECH Act, which created the ONC and allocated billions of dollars to develop programs to advance the nationwide interoperable private and secure Health IT system. He emphasizes that these programs are not just focused on advancing technology alone; the EHR technology must help patients, the healthcare system, the quality of healthcare delivery, the reduction of costs, and public health. This is not an option any longer; physicians and hospitals must realize that there is no alternative to moving into the electronic age in medicine.
The interview closes with a discussion of interoperability, which is a challenge not because of lack technological ability, but because of lack in resources and will to change. Dr. Blumenthal states that that a critical part to make this change is creating the business case for information exchange, and ensuring that all steps are taken to protect the privacy and security of digitized health information.