Blumenthal’s Address at MIT HIT Symposium

Posted on July 1, 2009 I Written By

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Blumenthal gave a recent speech at the HIT Symposium at MIT. I must admit that as I’ve heard Blumenthal speak I’ve grown pretty fond of what he’s trying to do within the bounds of what’s available to him. Here’s a quick look at some things he said with my thoughts.

“I found that (information technology) changed me as a physician. I thought it was going to change practice. That was 10 years ago,” Blumenthal said. “I think that reality will be realized within a few years.”

I’ve heard Blumenthal say this before. I guess given the number of speeches he gives it’s ok for him to repeat on occasion. That said, this is something that physicians hate to hear, but need to hear it. An EMR will change the way you practice. It won’t change the fact that you are going to give quality care to your patient. It won’t remove the need for all your training and intellect. However, information technology does become the heart of a practice when you implement an EMR. It’s nice that Blumenthal is willing to just state the facts.
David Blumenthal
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“If you look at the calendar and think about the institutions we need to create by 2011, it is a truly daunting prospect,” Blumenthal said. “And in some ways, if we started a year ago, we’d still be late.”

I’ve been talking about a delay in EMR stimulus money for a while. No doubt it is a daunting task. Luckily, I’m one that believes in the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and it seems like Blumenthal does too. Considering the government’s spending billions of dollars, you better think that way. Let’s just hope we don’t spend all that money and actually regress.

Blumenthal acknowledged other challenges facing the ONC, such as addressing the needs of small providers, privacy and security concerns and the lack of attention the current legislation pays to providers of long-term care, home care and hospices. ONC hopes to include those providers later, he said.

“We need that connection, but very frankly we don’t have the resources or the authority in this legislation to do what we need to do in that sector,” he said.

Nice to see Blumenthal acknowledge some of their weaknesses. I’ve been an advocate for the small providers for a long time. I don’t think the EMR stimulus money is right for small practices for the most part. However, I do think an EMR is right for small practices. They can still provide benefits without the EMR stimulus money.