AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT: AHIMA Reacts to President’s Council Report on HIT’s Full Potential to Improve Healthcare

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CHICAGO, Dec. 8, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following statement is attributable to Rita Bowen, MA, RHIA, AHIMA President:

The American Health Information Management Association congratulates the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) for the release of today’s report that envisions the critical role electronic health records (EHRs) must play in improving healthcare as well as the Council’s advocacy for the positive impact integrated EHRs can have on advancing the delivery of high-quality healthcare services.  AHIMA agrees that this is an appropriate time for the PCAST recommendations to be made and now discussed.

The goals stated by this Taskforce mirror those of AHIMA’s more than 60,000 professional health information management practitioners to achieve universal use of EHRs and a nationwide health information exchange (HIE) that does not jeopardize the protection, confidentiality and security of an individual’s health information.

AHIMA will, as requested by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), conduct a thorough review of these recommendations trusting that the federal government and the healthcare industry will also look at these requirements as applied across the healthcare industry and not just those entities that can qualify for Meaningful Use incentives.

SOURCE American Health Information Management Association

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Are we looking to save jobs or create jobs?

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For many years, presidents and presidential candidates have touted the benefits of HIT.  Health Information Technology, they’ve stated, can save lives, save money, improve medical care, allow physicians to make more money (???) as well as many other benefits.

Most recently, however, there seems to be an issue regarding whether or not HIT will save jobs or create jobs.

For instance, two recent articles, apparently quoting president-elect Obama appear to have contradictory information.  From:http://abcnews.go.com/Health/President44/story?id=6606536&page=1 we see: “To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its cost, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that, within five years, all of America’s medical records are computerized,” and “But it just won’t save billions of dollars and thousands of jobs; it will save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health-care system…”

My interpretation of that latter sentence is that it will ‘save thousands of jobs.’  From my perspective, that is not job creation.

However, from the same week we have an article in CNN from http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/12/technology/stimulus_health_care/index.htm

It states, in part:

“Doctors cannot spend hours and hours learning a new system,” said Castillo. “It needs to be a ubiquitous, ‘anytime, anywhere’ solution that has easily accessible data in a simple-to-use Web-based application.”

But highly skilled health information technology professionals are as rare as they come, and many IT workers will need to be trained as health technology experts.

Early government estimates showed about 212,000 jobs could be created from this program, but Brailer said there simply aren’t that many Americans who are qualified.”

Finally, we have: “In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the Internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.” as quoted in http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16258.html 

So, we find that Health Information Technology, if implemented nationwide will both save jobs and create jobs.  Note that in this context ‘saving jobs’ means that employed people will no longer be employed, thus saving money…

I, for one, am very anxious to see how this works out!