President Bush Makes the Case for Health IT

By July 10, 2007Health Care

As expected, President Bush’s remarks today on Iraq are dominating the news — no complaint about the media coverage, in this case — but he also had many other interesting and important things to say at the Intercontinental Hotel Cleveland (text here).

The comments about health care, including the use of information technology, were certainly worth noting. He visited the Cleveland Clinic earlier in the day and then laid out the case for consumer-driven health care, characterized by transparency and IT. Nothing earthshaking, but still good stuff.

believe in information technology. The first time I came to Cleveland Clinic, we were talking about how to modernize our hospital systems and our doctors’ offices into the 21st century. Perhaps the best way to describe the problem is we’ve got too many doctors still writing out prescriptions by hand. Most of them can’t write to begin with. (Laughter.) And then they pass the file from one person to the next. That’s inefficient in this new era. I mean, technology is changing the way we live; it ought to be changing the way medicine operates. And it is, at Cleveland Clinic. I envision the day, one day, when all of us will have our own medical electronic record that will be safe from snoopers, in other words, will be private, but will make health care more efficient.

Cleveland Clinic did something interesting. I went to four different stations, and after every station they gave me an outcomes book. In other words, we’re willing to be measured, says the good doc. There ought to be transparency in medicine. How many of you have ever actually tried to price a medical service? Probably not many. How many of you have ever said, gosh, I wonder whether this health care quality is better than the neighbors? I doubt any of you — many of you have done that. Why? Because the system is not geared toward that. Somebody else pays your bills. If you really think about it, and you’re working, say, for a company in America, and they provide a health care plan for you, there’s a third-party payer. Well, if somebody else pays the bills, why do you care what the cost is at the time of purchase?

In other words, the whole plan has got to be to bring more accountability into health care, to make the consumer more responsible for making proper and rational decisions. That’s what accountability does. And I applaud you for that, Doc. That’s what transparency in pricing means, that you should be able to shop for price.

He also urged Congress to pass medical liability reform. As said ….good stuff.

The White House released a fact sheet (here) on the policy initiatives the President discussed, including health care.

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