Health IT – Bottom Line, Saving Lives

By June 5, 2007Health Care

Following up on this morning’s post about today’s Capitol Hill news conference announcing the new coalition, Health IT Now!, Healthy Patients for Health Technology.

  • Here’s the website for the coalition,, with a statement of support from Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), a letter to Congress from members of the coalition (.pdf format), and a welcoming statement from former Representative Nancy Johnson of Connecticut.
  • A story from Government Health IT covering the event. With a nifty phrase from former Senator John Breaux of Lousiana.

    Describing how he received a large box full of his medical records on paper when he left Congress, where he served 32 years, Breaux said, “That is archaic. It’s ancient history and no longer can be tolerated.”

  • And a good piece in
  • And, if you’ll click on the extended entry below, you can read NAM President John Engler’s opening statement at the news conference. Message: Manufacturers deal with information technology every day, we stand ready to help, and it’s time to get moving on legislation to encourage the adoption of interoperable Health IT platforms, technology and personal medical records.

    Engler: “It’s just common sense in my mind. If you can save lives as well as save money, it’s too good to pass on.”

    John Engler, NAM President
    Health IT News Conference
    Tuesday, June 5, 2007

    The National Association of Manufacturers is delighted to be able to join in the announcement of this new coalition, Health IT Now!, Healthy Patients for Health Technology.

    We think the 110th Congress has an immediate opportunity to help with legislation to encourage the adoption of Health IT.

    Senator Breaux has talked movingly about the objectives. The goals are reducing costs – certainly — achieving interoperability – absolutely increasing efficiency, and bottom line, saving lives. Saving lives. And it’s an opportunity our country cannot afford to let pass.

    Time and time again, the National Association of Manufacturers’ member companies tell us that soaring health care costs are a serious burden. They strain their ability to compete in the global marketplace.

    Senator Breaux has already provided some pretty dramatic statistics about the cost of health care, and what’s at stake. …

    When you put these into real numbers what does this all mean for manufacturers? We did a survey last year of small and medium-sized companies, the kind of companies we deal with almost every day of our lives.

    Small and medium-sized members, mmost half said their health care costs have risen from 11 to 20 percent in the past year. And that’s a good year.

    Health care costs are also a major, major problem for manufacturers of all sizes; the biggest of our manufacturers in this country struggle. The problems in the auto industry have been well documented.

    The cure in question here isn’t Aspirin, it’s technology.

    Business and manufacturers understand and use daily cutting-edge information technology. They use that each and every day, start in the morning and it’s the last thing they do at night.

    Just-in-time inventories…personnel-record management…very sophisticated, high-tech production processes, manufacturers understand and work with information technology every day.

    Manufacturers are really the appliers of technology, all of the creativity that comes out of Silicon Valley, the impressive technological base in this nation, the manufacturers put that technology to work.

    Medicine does it too. In the operating room, America employs the most modern of technologies – lasers, nuclear medicine, nano-technology – incredible science, made real by U.S. manufacturers, and it also saves lives every day.

    But in the physician’s office, we’re stuck on paper. Reams and reams and reams of paper – 17th century technology.

    How often have anyone of us here of us had to sit in a doctor’s office and take that clipboard in hand, writing out our health information on yet another piece of paper that begins yet another set of files. …

    I see those (files) in that wheelchair, and I have a sense of what we might hear a little later. I was envisioning that box, when we moved from Michigan to Virginia and we had a little technology employed on our daughter’s immunization records.

    They were on computer in Michigan, but bringing them to Virginia, I recall the pediatrician’s office – actually Michelle did the follow-through on that one, I didn’t (laughter) – got our paper copies and for I think it was $28 they were happy to send all three files for all three daughters down here so we could deliver those to a Virginia pediatrician.

    How many here have waited for lab results to be sent from one laboratory to the doctor or perhaps a second doctor? How many have hand carried X-rays from one office to another? And I’ll bet everyone has had the experience of hand carrying a nearly illegible piece of paper called a prescription for a sick child taking it to a pharmacy, waiting in line to hand it in and being told you’ll have to wait while it’s filled, returning, waiting in line to pick it up, and probably not realizing there was a wait probably behind the counter while they called the doctor’s office and asked, “What was it you wrote here? What was the dosage?”

    Improving the health care system through technology is something everyone can agree on. It’s a bipartisan issue – it’s a non-partisan issue – it’s not partisan at all. It’s just common sense in my mind. If you can save lives as well as save money, it’s too good to pass on.

    This is an issue whose only opposition, really, is progress. And I think the time to act is now. This new coalition is going to be active in pressing Congress to enact legislation to lift regulatory barriers – or in some cases, clarify regulatory barriers – that might prevent implementation, widespread implementation and interoperability to Health IT, provide incentives for adoption of interoperable information technology.

    That’s one thing you hear, well, yes, it would make life easier, but I’ve got to change my system. Well, we think there are ways some of those savings will be in big federally funded systems like Medicare and Medicaid – that’s a state-federally funded system. , it’s a good investment, so direct government resources and attention to the issue will help.

    Manufacturers in America are ready to provide input. We’re ready to share our hard-earned experience on what we’ve been able to make work. We’re willing to share some of the private initiatives that are under way, projects like Dossia.

    This has to work, but we’ve got to have progress. We’ve got to get everybody joined up across America, we’ve got to have records for all Americans that are personal and portable and private, and that represents a progress. So I’m delighted and heartily endorse this effort.

    The NAM’s members stand ready to provide input and the hard-earned experiences of our own members. And we’ll push … for progress…for Health IT now.

    Congratulations..and thanks…The NAM heartily supports this effort.


    Join the discussion One Comment

    • It’s a shame the Senator was handed a pile of paper. Unfortunately, that happens everyday all over America. As does the patient getting charged for “copies”.

      Neither is necessary. An inexpensive USB drive plus the truly secure SafeKeyNet software solution enable every person in the world to carry their entire medical history in their pocket or purse. An unlike surrendering a person’s most intimate details to a very vulnerable web site, the information in SafeKeyNet never is out of the patient’s hands unless they authorize it —- and then only to the physician they designate. Most importantly, the contents can never be sold behind the patient’s back or nefariously used against them.

      30+ years worth of date… or 60 or 80 years of health care information will easily fit on a USB drive. The key is making sure the drive and the information it contains are absolutely secure (in the event of loss or theft) and easily accessible (in case of emergency). SafeKeyNet may not be the only answer but it is affordable, available immediately and made in America.

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