Last month, I was extremely fortunate to participate in two different meetings with the Office of the National Coordinator (Dr. David Blumenthal-ONC) and several of his senior staff. Despite the substantially different subject material for the two meetings, there was one common thread from the ONC — an overwhelming desire to help improve our health system. When I say “health system,” I do not mean a national system, my specific system, Medicare, and any other variant. I mean the interaction between caregivers and patients.
Dr. Blumenthal and his staff have a clear and common vision of adopting healthcare information technology for the correct purpose of improving healthcare processes with the end goal of better outcomes with less expense.
The other thing I discovered is that I would never want his job or any of his staff. Driving a nationwide HIT adoption strategy — while trying to balance individual, regional, state, and national flexibility — is a task of ominous proportion, with mostly complaint and criticism as thanks. It gives me an overwhelming feeling of responsibility and accountability to do, not only my fair share of the heavy lifting, but just a little more when I feel like I can’t.
So as we all try to point out what is wrong with interim rules, standards, metrics, timelines, and other ONC-based initiatives, remember one thing — the ONC and associated staff are our government servants working extremely hard to do the right thing for right reason for each and every one of us. At least for me, they have my respect and support during this massive time of change.