I just found this really nice interview by InformationWeek with David Blumenthal, Health IT Czar. Here are a few snippets of what David Blumenthal said with my own commentary in italics.
Congress set very ambitious goals for the HITECH legislation. The concept of meaningful use is novel, and a very powerful and important concept. The process of defining meaningful use has gone through many months, through many public hearings.
I think David Blumenthal realizes that meaningful use is going to be a major problem for many doctors offices. I think we’re going to hear him blaming Congress for the “ambitious” HITECH legislation which has his hands tied. It probably does, but it’s too bad he can’t just say it that way if it is the case.
The Office of National Coordinator is still committed to developing the Nationwide Health Information Network. Many of our federal colleagues and quite a number of larger healthcare organizations are on the verge of using NHIN as it was originally conceived and configured for their own purposes, and we’re continuing to invest in it.
At its last meeting the HIT Policy Committee adopted recommendations that they have not yet formally transmitted to me to encourage the development of a more flexible, adaptable, less complicated method of health information exchange than the Nationwide Health Information Network. And that’s something that we’ll be studying.
I think this is a good move. This national network in its current state just doesn’t seem like it’s going to have much affect on small doctors offices, which last I checked make up a large part of our healthcare system. I think in politics they call this move taking it to the people.
InformationWeek: Once you get clinicians using e-medical records, who pays to maintain the exchange infrastructure?
Blumenthal: It’s a short-term issue. Long term it’s going to become an expectation on the part of the clinician and patient that information is going to be exchanged. And I think it will become a cost of doing business in the healthcare sector just as physicians and nurses consider it a cost of doing business to buy stethoscopes and run an office.
Doctors will hate to hear this quote. Although, they shouldn’t be too upset. In reality, they’ll be passing this cost on to the consumers. Now how we get to the point Blumenthal talks about is beyond me. That’s a huge gap to cross.
InformationWeek: Will the Certification Commission for Heath IT–CCHIT– remain the organization doing these certifications, or will there be others?
Blumenthal: We’ll have to see what the regulation actually is and see where CCHIT fits in. CCHIT is clearly going to have the option to participate in certification going forward, but I can’t tell you what role exactly it will play.
Translation: I don’t care about CCHIT. If they want to participate great, but I’m playing no favorites here.