Sunday, August 8, 2010

President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology - another dissapointment

On July 16th the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) held a webcast where the afternoon agenda was a report out "Health Information Technology Study". This report was put together over 8 months by Christine Cassel, M.D., president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine; William Press, University of Texas Professor of Computer Sciences; and Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer.

I saw ONE writup on the session: Calls for Privacy, Quality in PCAST Report  by Healthcare Informatics. There was not that much information given in the article, but it did get me interested in what Privacy aspects might have been brought up. 
University of Texas’ Press spoke about privacy considerations with electronic health records and mentioned the saliency of a 2006 Marco Foundation survey in which 80 percent of those respondents said they very concerned about theft or fraud of electronic health records. “From the very beginning of our discussions and of the working group's discuss we realized that privacy and security couldn't be add-ons to any system of healthcare exchange,” he said. “They had to be engineered in from the very start.”

So I went and listened to the Webcast. Fortunately it took only 50 minutes for the presentation, questions, and approval of the document. A document that is still not yet available today. My impression from the webcast is that they were given good and wonderful news about what could be. They held up VA and Kaiser as examples of comprehensive EHR systems. Yet they also referred to the original Markle Foundation report, and other studies from 5+ years ago. I further had my hopes dashed by comment after comment that showed that they had not learned anything new, but were simply making the same old mistakes over again. This has nothing bad to say about VA, Kaiser or Markle; These are all good things. What was disappointing is that the workgroup had not dug deep enough to have learned about the problems that we are all working had to solve today.

The positive that could come out of this is more visibility into and by ONC. However frustrated I am at what ONC does, they are at least in the trenches with the rest of us working toward a solution. I will always back those that are working toward a solution, even if they might be frustrating me by not simply doing it 'my way'.