In an open letter blog to President Obama, Burton Group Senior Analyst Joe Bugajski opines that President Obama is spewing “delusional visions of a nation-covering, interoperable, secure, private, reliable, accurate, and instantaneous electronic healthcare data network is at best terrifying and at worst pernicious.” OK – I had to look up ‘pernicious’. It’s not good.
Mr. Bugajski goes on to relate a horrifying personal experience in which he ended up in a clinic and then a hospital that both used electronic health records. He relates the story of his stay in which electronic health records hindered rather than helped and concludes that most health care professionals “longed for handwritten charts hanging at the foot of every patient’s bed.” While I don’t doubt his experience, and I disagree that building a national health information network is an unsound idea. In fact, the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK is several years into its ‘Connecting for Health‘ program and has already built a nation-covering, interoperable, secure, private, reliable, accurate, and instantaneous electronic healthcare data network. The UK is reaping the benefits of improved treatment and cost savings. You can read additional background in my research note, Toolkit: Enterprise Architecture for the U.K.’s National Health Service (Case Study)
Mr. Bugajski is correct that the initiative will be large and costly and I also agree that the US government should approach the program with caution. But the benefits are enormous – it’s about saving lives! While I sympathize with Mr. Bugajski’s unfortunate experience, I believe moving forward on this initiative is truly one of the bright spots in President Obama’s stimulus plan.