Matthew Holt

Progress made by ONC (Really!)

ONC Director Farzad Mostashari is out with his review of 2011 on a month by month basis. Good to see that Farzad & colleagues took December 2011 off (just kidding!). He calls it a year of “momentous” progress. I’m doubly biased because I’m a proponent of newer and better health technology for clinicians AND citizens. Also, (FD) Health 2.0 is the main subcontractor on the i2 Investing in Innovation challenges which were–as noted by Farzad–launched in June, have had several close already, and will continue to roll off the production line for another 18 months. But as a general and occasionally cynical observer I’m very impressed with what ONC has done.

There are complications, many of them written into the law–for example the MU dollars are also going to organizations that already spent the money (e.g. Kaiser Permanente) but that’s a complication of the way the law had to be written to assure that it went to technology that was actually used properly. And it’s still unclear if the NHIN requires expensive local public HIEs or if that a simpler form only (e.g. Direct plus more innovation) will do. But given that the USA was at least a decade behind most other developed nations in its use of primary and ambulatory care, the numbers from CDC are really encouraging. And on a personal note, in my 3 person family, now at least the PCP and the Pediatrician are using EMRs (the OBGYN still is not). One day I hope to be given access to what’s in them! Finally, ONC and Farzad & Lygeia in particular are to be applauded on making sure that patients are valued in their health IT strategy. After all, few others in the health care establishment seem to pay much more than lip service about integrating consumers/citizens/patients into health care.

 

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