Obama names health IT as first step in reform
At a keynote speech at the annual conference of the American Medical Association Monday, President Obama said healthcare IT is the first step to reforming care in the U.S. He said there is already "widespread agreement" on steps necessary to improve the healthcare system, including the use of health IT.
"First, we need to upgrade our medical records by switching from a paper to an electronic system of record keeping. And we've already begun to do this with an investment we made as part of our Recovery Act," he said.
"It simply doesn't make sense that patients in the 21st century are still filling out forms with pens on papers that have to be stored away somewhere," Obama said."
You shouldn't have to tell every new doctor you see about your medical history or what prescriptions you're taking. You shouldn't have to repeat costly tests. All that information should be stored securely in a private medical record so that your information can be tracked from one doctor to another -- even if you change jobs, even if you move, even if you have to see a number of different specialists. That's just common sense."
The president said that electronic health records will not only mean less paper-pushing and lower administrative costs, but it will also mean physicians will have an easier time doing your jobs.
"It will tell you, the doctors, what drugs a patient is taking so you can avoid prescribing a medication that could cause a harmful interaction," he said to AMA conference attendees. "It will prevent the wrong dosages from going to a patient. It will reduce medical errors, it's estimated, that lead to 100,000 lives lost unnecessarily in our hospitals every year."
"So there shouldn't be an argument there. And we want to make sure that we're helping providers computerize so that we can get this system up and running."
The speech comes as Congress works on comprehensive legislation to reform U.S. healthcare, with partisan battles expected before a final law is passed before the president's deadline of Oct. 1.
During the president's campaign, he called for $50 billion for health IT over five years. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act slated a downpayment of more than $20 billion in incentives to begin the advance of health IT. Policy experts are not certain how health IT will fare in the upcoming reform bill, but most of the goals the Democrats and the administration are pushing include the need for health IT.