In a wide-ranging speech invoking his famous foundation’s work in improving the health of the citizens of impoverished countries around the world, efforts to promote healthy lifestyles in the United States, and the opportunities inherent in 21st-century information and other technologies, former President Bill Clinton told a rapt, standing-room only audience at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on March 6 that healthcare IT professionals in the U.S. have an awesome responsibility to help lead the transformation of our healthcare system into one that is far more transparent, accountable, and focused on dramatically improving the health status of our country’s citizens.
“I think that life expectancy will continue to rise,” President Clinton told several thousand HIMSS13 attendees. “But,” he said, citing statistics showing recent declines in life expectancy among some Americans without high school educations, “don’t you want it to be there for everybody? I think you will see more and more people adopt living habits that will forestall dementia and Alzheimer’s,” he added, hopefully.
Importantly, he cited the progress being made by organizations like the Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System, which are leveraging healthcare IT to create evidence-based care delivery, including with pricing guarantees, such as Geisinger’s well-known ProvenCare program. “The whole promise of information technology is that we can manage data in ways we never could before to figure out what we’re doing, so that we don’t have unexamined lives of unexamined healthcare systems,” Clinton told a hushed audience. “And with the help of IT, we can get U.S. healthcare costs in line with those of other advanced countries. I’ve told you all these troubling things,” he said, citing well-known statistics around the vast disparities between U.S. healthcare spending levels and those of other advanced, industrialized nations. “But you can fix them. We cannot however allow a lack of transparency or a determination to hang onto the present market, or a disempowerment of people, to keep us from doing it.”
Earlier, Clinton had commented that “The political, social and healthcare impacts of the Affordable Care Act have yet to be fully determined, because it all depends on how it’s implemented, how some of these inherent difficulties are resolved, and the decisions that we all make outside the scope of the Affordable Care Act.”