With so many pressing topics on the minds of the American voters, health IT is being forced to take a back seat at the Democratic National Convention — and don’t expect anything different from the Republicans next week. It’s not because the candidates don’t care about the adoption of EMRs; rather, it’s just that in 2008, Barack Obama, John McCain and the others simply have bigger fish to fry.
When I spoke with John Glaser for the October story on politically active CIOs, I asked for his take on the subject, and this is what he offered:
“You won’t hear too much about health IT… most of the country is more concerned with Iraq and the cost of gas and the imploding real estate market and what this will mean to folks, global competitiveness, will our children have good jobs, stuff like that. There are some very serious issues in front of the country that are frankly more important than healthcare IT, and even within healthcare, there are more serious issues of insured and invariable quality, stuff like that. We ought to recognize that we’re not number one in the presidential hit parade, nor should we be, given some of the other issues.”
I think he has a valid point, but I also think that health IT has a place in discussions surrounding health reform. And judging from a survey conducted earlier this year by CSC, I’m not alone. According to their research, 70 percent of Americans would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports the creation of a nationwide health information network. Interestingly enough, the survey also said that 67 percent said that they have never heard presidential candidates discuss health IT or EHRs.
This is something that organizations like CHIME are trying to change. According to Sharon Canner, directory of advocacy programs, CHIME has worked with HIMSS to reach out to both platforms to try to “to infuse statements on health information technology” into discussions at the conventions. “We’re just trying to get our messages into the platform committees so they are mentioned,” said Canner in a recent interview with HCI. “If you go back to state of the union addresses, for several years, the president mentioned HIT; actually the Bush administration in 2004 issued an executive order which then created the Office of the National Coordinator. So we’ve seen a lot of good work, and I think everyone involved in all the standards work — interoperability, certification, etc — just wants to see this progress continue.”
I think so too. Hey, we all know that there are bigger issues on the front burner, but it doesn’t mean health IT can’t get a little heat.