On December 6, President-elect Obama announced three major economic recovery initiatives: rebuild the nation's roads and bridges, enhance schools including broadband access, and deploy electronic health records (EHR) for every clinician and hospital in the US. President-elect Obama also nominated former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Director of the new White House Office of Health Reform to lead the health-related initiatives.
Mr. Daschle has been a passionate voice in Washington, DC, advocating for the implementation of health care reform. One of his ideas is to create an autonomous oversight body for health care, the Federal Health Board, which would be modeled after the Federal Reserve, to "offer a public framework within which a private health-care system can operate more effectively and efficiently—insulated from political pressure yet accountable to elected officials and the American people." The Federal Health Board may seek better data on both wellness and illness, which may require the creation of interlocking databases on all Americans, matched to medical transaction data. To do this, Mr. Daschle may implement one of President-elect Obama's three major initiatives by making significant investments in information technology, or EHR systems. This initiative may potentially result in significant quality improvements, provided the EHR information could be used for surveys, estimates, and studies.
President-elect Obama recently explained: "In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the Internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I'm proposing will help modernize our health care system—and that won't just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor's office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year."
It is clear that health information technology is being considered as part of a larger economic stimulus package, and President-elect Obama has indicated to lawmakers that he wants a bill ready to sign when he takes office on Jan. 20, 2009. If you would like to learn more about the Academy's position on EHR systems, please read the reports found on the EHR Resources page.