Is HI-TECH Dead?

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[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

Yesterday, Don Fluckinger, Features Writer for SearchhealthIT, posted “Blumenthal: Building national health network could take decades”

“When Dr. David Blumenthal was national health IT coordinator, he focused on 2015, the HITECH Act’s original target date for meeting meaningful use criteria. Now that he’s back in civilian life, he’s taking a longer view of the initiative to create a national health network triggered by the HITECH Act’s cash incentives to physicians and hospitals using electronic health record (EHR) systems.”

Even though Fluckinger assures us that post-ONC, Blumenthal is still a “HITECH Act champion,” I’m not so sure. Perhaps in spirit only!

A Multi-Decade Project?

Last week, Dr. Blumenthal was the keynote speaker at the Massachusetts annual health IT conference. According to Fluckinger, he told the audience that building a secure, national, interoperable health information system “was always going to be a multi-year, maybe even multi-decade project.” That’s not what I remember. I remember being told that if I didn’t purchase a network-ready EHR for my dental practice by 2014, I wouldn’t be paid by insurance companies.

What Happened?

So, what happened to President Bush’s 2004 Executive Order of “interoperability (even with dentists) by 2014”? Is it too soon to say that he failed? So who is going to tell the thousands of HIT stakeholders who have been attracted by the smell of stimulus billions? Blumenthal?


I can only imagine that now that Dr. Blumenthal left his job as head of the ONC for a new job as a health policy professor at Harvard School of Public Health, the openness of life outside government makes him uncomfortable with the lame talking points he once pushed as part of his job, without cracking a smile.


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