Obama Plans to Modernize Healthcare by Making Health Records Standardized and Electronic

Teri Robert Health Guide
  • President-Elect Obama has proposed modernizing healthcare by making all health records standardized and electronic -- in the next five years. The goal... Help revive the economy, increase the quality of healthcare, and reduce the costs of healthcare.


    Reactions are mixed, to say the least, and it's a huge, very difficult project. Currently, approximately 8% of our 5,000 hospitals and 17% of our 800,000 doctors use the kind of digital records that Obama envisions for the country.


    Data from independent studies conducted by Rand, Harvard, and the Commonwealth fund project that the play could cost $75 billion to $100 billion during the ten years they estimate hospitals would need to implement a digital records plan.

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    Early estimates from the government indicate that 212,000 jobs could be created by this program, but Dr. David Brailer, former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology stated that there aren't that many Amercans who are qualified for the jobs.


    Another issue is patient privacy and confidentiality, an especially touchy subject for those of us with mental health conditions. HIPAA generally protects patient privacy, but it was not written for digital records. Protecting patient privacy would require that Congress pass new laws.


    I have some personal experience with two doctors offices that use only digital records, and it's been positive. There have been fewer instances of things missing from my chart, fewer incidents of charts going missing. When I have information to give those doctors, I take it in on a flash drive if I have it in digital format. They copy it into my chart and give the drive back. If I take them information on paper, they scan it, then throw away the paper or give it back to me.


    Now, I have to say that these offices are NOT linked into a huge national network where others can access them. Would my privacy be protected if those offices were part of a national network available via the Internet. With the current laws, I'm not confident that it would be.


    Still, overall, I think Obama's proposed initiative is a good one. Certainly Congress could write and enact laws to protect privacy. Certainly improved healthcare that carries a lower price tag is desirable.


    We are falling behind other countries in technology. Not a good thing. There aren't enough qualified Americans for the jobs created by this initiative? That goes to prove my point. We've also gotten soft on education. We still have young Americans graduating from high school who can't read. There is no excuse for the reading problem OR not having people qualified for these jobs. If necessary, lengthen the deadline and get people trained.


    Now, what do YOU think? Please click the Add Comment link below and speak up!


    Be well,





    Goldman, David; CNNMoney.com staff writer. "Obama's big idea: Digital health records." CNNMoney.com. January 12, 2009.

Published On: January 12, 2009