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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched Health IT Buzz, a new blog for the discussion of Information Technology (IT) issues, particularly electronic health records.
David Blumenthal, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said on the initial posting:
With this new venture, we hope to create a forum for engagement. We plan to report on progress, and create an open dialogue among members of the health IT community. We intend to address a wide and diverse range of timely topics relevant to the “why’s and how’s” of efforts to support the secure and seamless exchange of electronic health information. We will discuss our ongoing work to protect patient privacy, secure information, and implement standards. We’ll also be using the blog to provide additional information regarding our new grant programs. And the conversation wouldn’t be complete without discussing the meaningful use rulemaking and incentive programs, clarifying our vision and addressing key challenges.
We want to hear from citizens, patients, health professionals, managers, policymakers, technology enthusiasts and technology skeptics. We can’t succeed unless we understand the wishes and concerns of the many constituencies we serve.
A special report from CNN.com states that Obama plans to digitize health records within the next five years. This is one of the endeavors to restore the economy as government estimates that this program will create around 212,000 jobs. However, there are some concerns about it because:
1) Commonwealth Fund, RAND, and Harvard have conducted independent studies which reveal that this program would cost between $75-100 billion dollars over the implementation period. The major cost will be incurred in traning the work force.
2) At present, only “about 8% of the nation’s 5,000 hospitals and 17% of its 800,000 physicians currently use the kind of common computerized record-keeping systems that Obama envisions for the whole nation.”
3) The privacy of patients must be protected as the nationalized system may be affected by system failures and hackers.
Obama asserts that this program will create new jobs, cut medical costs, and save $200-300 billion per year for the health industry.