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President’s Message for National Health IT Week #NHITWeek

Posted on September 27, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This week is National Health IT Week. I’m not sure why we need a week for it. Some of us celebrate health IT all year round. That said, at least it’s an opportunity for some people that could impact healthcare IT to take some time to think about it. A good example of this was that President Obama put out a letter for National Health IT Week (Side Note: It’s kind of funny that it’s still a “letter” and not a blog post or Tweet or Snap or something else. It’s interesting how letters keep subsisting in electronic format. Hmm…sounds a bit like healthcare.). Here’s an excerpt of what he said:

During National Health IT Week, we recommit ourselves to improving the health of our citizenry using the breakthrough technologies of our time and reaching for the next frontier of innovation…Because of our collective efforts, 97 percent of our Nation’s hospitals and three-quarters of doctors are using electronic records to care for their patients…These efforts help advance our Administration’s goal of fostering the seamless and secure flow of electronic health information when and where it is needed most. Though there is more to be done to realize a healthcare system that fits each of our needs, I am confident that if we continue working together, we can build a future of greater health and prosperity for coming generations.

While I’d like to think that this week has caused the President to spend some time thinking about healthcare IT, I’m not sure it really makes any difference. Besides the fact that some staffer or ONC itself probably did most of the work for the letter, the letter illustrates to me that the President doesn’t really understand the challenges that face healthcare IT. That’s unfortunate because it means we won’t see any real push to change things from him.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying the President should be an expert on healthcare IT and I’m certain that few people in Congress know much more about it than he does. They’re all likely in the same position the President is in with too many challenges and limited time. They can only dive in deeply on so many of them.

The thing that disturbs me about this letter is that it’s likely the same position that our government has had for health IT since pre-meaningful use. In fact, it’s likely why meaningful use was included so easily in the ARRA stimulus package. Is Health IT good? Well, electronic has been good in every other industry. So, that sounds good. Can you transfer bits and bytes of health data better than paper? Yep! So, EHR should make sharing data easier. Conclusion: Let’s keep doing more EHR and healthcare will be better and healthcare data sharing will happen.

It’s this naivety that’s gotten us where we are today.

My cause for optimism is that the people in government positions over healthcare like Andy Slavitt, Acting Director of CMS, do have a much better pulse on what’s happening in healthcare IT. They understand physician burnout. They understand overwhelming doctors with unnecessary and useless documentation. They understand data blocking and the pressures healthcare organizations face to not share health data. I’m not saying they have all the solutions. These are challenging problems, but I’m hopeful because they do understand these problems much better than most people give them credit.

Will we see much change? The jury is still out. Those at HHS only have so many levers they can pull. I do hope they can find ways to encourage without stifling innovation. I hope they focus on collecting useful data as opposed to possibly useful data. I hope they stop wasting money on EHR certification which provides no benefit and causes a lot of harm and they instead focus on a meaningful EHR interoperability certification.

Most of all, I hope they’re not afraid to focus on one thing that’s extremely valuable and doable (ie. interoperability) and set aside the 100s of other things which have questionable value. Wouldn’t we all rather have CMS do 1 thing really well as opposed to doing 100 things poorly?

Today I focused on some government health IT perspectives. Tomorrow I’ll talk about some of the other healthcare IT trends that get me excited and a few that scare me. Happy National Health IT Week!

ONC Google Plus Hangout Hosted by Doug Fridsma

Posted on February 12, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Looks like the government has chosen Google Plus as the best platform to be able to reach out and stay in touch with the larger community. I just read that Obama will be doing a Google+ hangout a few days after the State of the Union address. In similar fashion, today Doug Fridsma from ONC hosted a Google Plus Hangout discussing some of the projects that ONC is participating in. Plus, the beautiful part of a Google Hangout by ONC is that it’s automatically recorded and published to YouTube. So, if you missed the hangout, you can watch the ONC Hangout video embedded below.

Here’s who participated on the ONC Hangout:
Doug Fridsma, M.D., Ph.D. – Chief Scientist at ONC
Arien Malec – VP Strategy and Product Marketing at RelayHealth, Former Coordinator for the Direct Project
Deven McGraw – Director of the Health Privacy Project at CDT
John Moehrke – Principal Engineer: Interoperability and Security at GE
Vince Kuraitis – Principal, Better Health Technologies, LLC
Brian Ahier – Health IT Evangelist
John Travis – Senior Director and Solution Strategist, Regulatory Compliance at Cerner
Alice Leiter – Policy Counsel at Center for Democracy & Technology

Turns out that I’m actually planning my first Google+ hangout as well with some of the people from HIMSS. Watch for more details on that soon.

EMR-EHR Safety Watchdog Unlikely To Emerge Soon

Posted on August 13, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Yesterday, we at got a letter from the organization behind, a patient safety organization allowing people to anonymously report EMR-related safety events, stating that the site was shutting down.  PDR Secure LLC gave little information on the closure, other than to say that it was relinquishing its PSO status.

Curious, John and I took a closer look at the matter. The only other organization which seemed to allow for reporting of EMR-related safety incidents, (“S” capitalized for clarity), seems to have disappeared since it was first launched late last year.

So while Google searches aren’t perfect, it does appear that at the moment, there’s no official source to which providers, hospitals or other interested parties can report patient safety incidents related to problems with an EMR/EHR.

It’s worth noting that the FDA seems quite concerned about establishing EMR safety regulations. In fact, agency members have been in discussion for years on the topic, spurred by reports of HIT-related malfunctions. “Because these reports are purely voluntary, they may represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the HIT-related problems that exist,” Dr. Jeffrey Shuren of the agency’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health told Congress in 2010.

But so far, the agency hasn’t issued any regs. My feeling is that FDA leaders are stalling (prompted in part, I’m guessing from indirect lobbying pressure) on getting such a system started, as it’s definitely going to irritate some very deep-pocketed HIT players out there.

As FierceEMR editor Maria Durben Hirsch noted in an excellent recent column, there’s more than one way the private sector could take up the role of EMR safety watchdog, such as:

*  Creating a one-stop site where users and others can report on their experiences with EMR systems, a step the AMA has apparently considered

*  Launching a new watchdog agency, run by HHS, which would oversee EMR registration, monitor for health IT-related mistakes and investigate adverse event reports.  According to Durben, Congress likes this idea — which was proposed by the Institute of Medicine — but that there’s been no action yet.

Bottom line, it seems that reporting on adverse EMR events is a very unpopular idea in many quarters, or at least a political hot potato.  I suspect someone, perhaps HHS or even the POTUS, is going to have to hammer EMR reporting into place if it’s going to happen anytime soon.

EHR Letter Sent to Aneesh Chopra CTO of Obama Administration

Posted on December 8, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I was really intrigued by this letter sent from SRSsoft CEO, Evan Steele, to the CTO of the Obama Administration about the current administration’s EHR direction. Here’s a small excerpt from the letter posted on Health Data Management:

“I am writing to you directly, rather than posting on the FACA blog, because I am deeply concerned that the path the government is taking will inevitably lead to failure. You asked physicians for input and they answered loudly and clearly–traditional EHR technology does not work for them. Their comments are difficult to ignore.

“The government is endorsing the exact technology that has a 50% failure rate. As stated in the blog comments, physicians simply find these EHRs unusable. Of the 60 blog comments on real-world implementation experiences, 57 reported EHR failures and shortcomings–writers documented painful and costly EHR de-installations, or explained the reasons why they would not even try to implement “traditional” EHRs. There is no reason to expect outcomes to be different in the future–vendors have made no significant changes to these products to mitigate the formidable obstacles preventing their adoption. The problems cited are daunting:

* “Physicians will not purchase productivity-decreasing software–particularly now, as they face increasing demand and diminishing reimbursements. They reported productivity losses as high as 40%, and the impact did not diminish over time.

The sad part is that Evan’s letter is likely to fall on deaf ears. First, because Aneesh Chopra probably doesn’t care much about EMR software. Second, a letter from an EMR vendor who wants the rules changed to get better access to the $36.3 billion in EMR stimulus money for his customers is likely to be seen as a political move. Even if Evan is correct with what he’s saying, that doesn’t mean that Aneesh will realize it. Third, is it too late? The HITECH legislation is past. Can HHS really make that much of a difference at this point? Sadly, I don’t think Evan we’ll feel any better 2 years from now when he says, “I told you so.”

AMA Speaks Out on Obama Health Care

Posted on September 3, 2009 I Written By

I got the following email that I just couldn’t resist posting. I’m not sure who deserves credit for this, but I think that many will enjoy the perspective.

The American Medical Association has weighed in on the new Obama health care proposals.

The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves. The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve..

The Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception. Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted. Pathologists yelled; “Over my dead body!” while the Pediatricians said, “Oh, Grow up!”

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it. Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing. The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, “This puts a whole new face on the matter….”

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea. The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and the Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the assholes in Washington.

EMRs, Small Business and Universal Coverage

Posted on July 28, 2009 I Written By

I turned on the radio on Monday and they were talking about Healthcare again. Universal coverage, the August recess, the “blue dog” democrats.

I keep thinking about how EMRs fit into all of this. Obama thinks that EMRs are going to make care better, more efficient and less costly. I think he is right about the first two (if we install EMRs that are usable and bring value to doctors and patients), but not necessarily about the third. EMRs may not reduce costs!

As Obama takes our economy (and our healthcare system) away from the small business model to the big government/big business model, I wonder how EMRs fit into all this. Investing in an EMR is a big deal for most physicians because we are a small business that provides medical care. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an EMR which may not bring return on investment (ROI) while potentially reducing our productivity is a big risk. At the same time, if reimbursement are reduced or the system becomes Universal, the stakes are higher and the risks are greater.

Everyone (individuals and small business) is struggling with our current economy. Small businesses are at risk (many are closing their doors). Physicians are working hard to pay the bills, make payroll and have a little left over to take home to the family. The EMR issue has to be handled correctly or it could have dramatic effects on our healthcare system. The EMRs have to be effective and efficient. Doctors have to like them and be satisfied with their utility and performance. EMRs have to help us take care of patients more effectively and efficiently. Anything less than this throws more sand into the cogs of the healthcare machinery and amplifies the risks of all the other changes occurring at this time.

Inertia in Healthcare Is Sometimes a Good Thing

Posted on July 21, 2009 I Written By

President Barack Obama is defending his relentless campaign for a health care bill before Congress’s August recess, saying “the default in Washington is inaction and inertia.”

Mr. Obama, there is a good reason for inertia. It protects complex systems which have evolved over time from dramatic change which can be very disruptive and threaten the very survival of the system. Inertia moderates change so that change can be accomplished slowly and successfully. Inertia is sometimes a good thing. In the case of healthcare reform, this inertia might save our healthcare system.

Improving our healthcare system is an important project. This cannot be done in 3 months by politicians and bureaucrats who are not expert or experienced in the ways of healthcare. The system must evolve slowly, thoughtfully and carefully.

The goal should NOT be universal coverage at the expense of everything else! Universal coverage is a worthy goal, but there are other things which are more important like quality of care, cost of care, ability to access care, innovation and properly aligned incentives. Universal coverage puts EVERYTHING else at risk and therefore we need to pause, take a deep breath and figure out how we are going to improve our health system without ruining it and putting our whole economy at risk.

The experiment in Massachusetts has been a disaster. It has achieved the goal of universal coverage but the cost of care has gone up and access to care is terrible (not enough providers). Doctors are miserable, not making any money and they are leaving the state. Let’s look very closely at Massachusetts before we duplicate this disaster at the national level!

Big Government, Healthcare IT, Our Healthcare System and the Economy

Posted on July 17, 2009 I Written By

There are a couple things going on in this country which are troubling. Two of them have to do with healthcare and the third has to do with our overall economy which is closely linked to healthcare.

Government is getting too involved with healthcare. First, they are rushing to mandate information technology (IT) which is not “ready for prime time”. Second, they are going to set up a government option for healthcare which will be subsidized by our tax dollars. This option will drive other insurance companies out of business (you can’t compete with a significantly subsidized competitor). There will then be a one payer system so we will no longer have choice. This system will be designed and run by government beurocrates (which I am not excited about) who we will be supporting through our tax dollars (higher taxes on everyone). Healthcare will be more expensive and less effective (See Medical Economics July 10, 2009, Critical Mass) AND this system will have a negative effect on small business and big business and our economy. Finally doctors will be affected in all sorts of ways (see Medical Economics July 10, 2009, Top-down, bottom-up, and medicine in the middle).

As we watch Obama and his advisors change our basic healthcare system and our basic economic system (from a small business model to a big government model), everyone should take some time to read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The book is very long, so read the Cliff Notes!

What are your thoughts on all the changes going on right now, from the changes in our healthcare system to the mandates for electronic medical records. Who is going to pay for all this? Who is going to implement all of this? Is it going to work? Are we doing a big experiment (with our whole healthcare system and our whole economy) without doing smaller experiments to see what will happen?

Guest Post: The Recent EMR Debate

Posted on June 15, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The recent increase in the adoption of EMRs due to the Obama administration’s stimulus package has caused a stir within the medical field.  This computerized record technology has already changed the face of American health care, amidst an inner sense of conflict between smaller and larger healthcare centers.  The stimulus package has forced many smaller offices to update their health records because of the government’s overall plan to hasten the implementation of EMRs in order to curb the cost of care nationwide.  While this new implementation has proved to be controversial, its intentions are for the better of society as a whole.

While most healthcare centers already use computerized software to keep their records in order, a lot of smaller companies do not have the necessary funds needed in order to fully implement this system.  Because of the increased demand for this technology, larger companies have acquired larger shares of health information-technology specialists, leaving everyone else to scramble for a share.  This will in turn lead to smaller companies becoming forced to team with larger ones simply to adopt computerized health records because of the overarching cost.  While this was a largely unforeseen consequence of the stimulus package, it is still one that has affected many smaller practices in a large way.

Healthcare should be computerized in general, as it leads to better archival records and an easier way to back everything up.  However, smaller companies should not be forced to update their systems simply because the government has now deemed it necessary to convert to this method.  Many smaller practices are now hurting because of this transition, which is the exact opposite goal of the stimulus package.  The recent technological revolution has been ongoing since the beginning of the twentieth century, ushering in an age in which computers are commonplace and do well to be placed within doctor’s offices.  However, the government should take on the expense of implementing these throughout the country rather than forcing small businesses (which it is initially supposed to be protecting) to combine with larger ones simply in order to maintain their revenue.

It seems difficult to argue against a measure that is intended to benefit the whole of society in the end, but for a while, this will drastically alter the finances of many smaller health practices.  In consideration of these smaller centers, we need to discover a way in which we can consolidate health care practice into a technological aspect without causing further expense to an already “strapped” industry.

This post was contributed by Meredith Walker, who writes about the top nursing schools. She welcomes your feedback at MeredithWalker1983 at