WASHINGTON – If Donald Berwick, MD, is confirmed as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, he and David Blumenthal, MD, the national coordinator for health IT, would be a “dream team” in pursuing a coherent national healthcare and health IT strategy.
At least that’s the assessment of Kerry Weems, who spent 25 years in senior roles at the Health and Human Services Department and was acting administrator of CMS from Sept. 2007 until the Obama administration took over.
At the same time, reporters at The Huffington Post continue to raise questions about HIT and patient safety that the above team will have to address.
Despite mounting concern over safety risks posed by digital medical records systems, government officials are years away from starting to track hazards stemming from use of the devices.
A federal advisory panel wants to create the first national database of medical software malfunctions and problems as a part of the Obama administration’s drive to spend billions of dollars in economic stimulus money helping doctors and hospitals adopt the technology.
But the proposed system wouldn’t be up and running before 2013—even though a growing chorus of technology experts is warning that rapidly converting paper records into digital formats can unleash new types of medical errors.
Does the Feds strategic plan address safety? Read their latest update. It mentions the issue, but not with the same urgency.
…(T)here are several key areas that will need continued discussion. Among the topics discussed during the development of this Framework were the following:
Transparency and Access – ensuring that patients have access to information and knowledge to make informed decisions about their care;
Personal Choice – finding the right balance between patient privacy and patient choice i.e., some patients do not want their data shared whereas some patients do not mind sharing or want to share their information for research, improved care, and/or for the betterment of society;
Public Engagement – allowing for continued public discussion and debate on current and emerging health care issues that cannot be resolved easily or through easy technology solutions;
Technology Innovation – learning from the impact that the internet and social networking has had on our daily lives, and leaving flexibility for how technical innovations may change the delivery of health care; capitalizing on the promise of emerging new technologies while preserving the rights of individuals;
Support for Research – putting in place appropriate policies and technical infrastructure to allow researchers to access data to support new discoveries and treatments while protecting individual privacy; and
Unintended Consequences – allowing for processes to capture and learn from unanticipated adverse consequences of HIT use, and developing actions to mitigate and prevent untoward effects.