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Runnin' With the Big Dogs

May 18, 2009
by Mark Hagland
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On Saturday, the Washington Post published an extremely interesting “inside-baseball” look at the efforts of HIMSS and other healthcare IT organizations to influence health care policy legislation in Washington (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/15/AR2009051503667.html). I was surprised by how well the article contexted our industry, for a mainstream media report, which quoted such healthcare IT leaders as Blackford Middleton, M.D., and HIMSS president H. Stephen Lieber.

The salient point, however, is that this Post article accurately delved into behind-the-scenes developments in healthcare IT legislative activity. I was wondering how long it would take the mainstream media to get interested in healthcare’s “inside baseball,” particularly of the IT variety. The fact is that, as the ARRA-HITECH stimulus funding moves towards disbursement, and as comprehensive healthcare reform and reimbursement legislation begins to move towards debate and possible passage, we in healthcare, including in healthcare IT, have to expect greater scrutiny of our industry, our leaders, and maybe even some of our less attractive industry “secrets,” just as has taken place with regard to countless other industries (i.e., the auto industry, the oil industry, the airline industry, and so on). Because when major money is involved, there’s no way to keep secrets hidden any longer. In other words, expect these kinds of “delving” to continue in the future, and indeed, to proliferate, as the mainstream media, policymakers, and consumers begin to take a far more detailed interest in what we do in healthcare and how we do it. And some of the stories won’t be pretty. But, as in other industries, they may just lead to needed internal reforms, or spur self-improvement long called for from within the industry.

So if we thought that everything we do was under scrutiny before, just wait—this Post article was only the beginning. Let’s just hope that future articles are as fair and balanced in their reporting; and that we in healthcare and healthcare IT are ready to stand in the limelight of prime time.

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