Publication Date: March 21, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC—Markle Connecting for Health, a collaborative of more than 90 private and public health care organizations, today applauded President Bush for his bold statement in support of information technology and communication standards by doctors and medical institutions nationwide.
Mr. Bush made his statement at a gathering of the American Medical Association in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.
Since it was founded last September, Markle Connecting for Health has found widespread support for the adoption of clinical data standards in the medical community, in private industry, in government, among consumer advocates, and beyond. Standards are crucial for the President’s vision to be achieved. Without them, electronic health records cannot easily make vital information available to patients and their physicians when needed most. With proper privacy and security safeguards, electronic health records can support patients and their physicians in their decision-making and lead to an overall improvement in the quality of health care in America.
“Because of the highly fragmented nature of our healthcare system—where care is delivered by a variety of independent physicians and other providers working in a broad spectrum of inpatient and ambulatory settings—medical information is often collected and reported in a piecemeal fashion,” said Herb Pardes, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Executive Vice Chair of Markle Connecting for Health.
“President Bush’s announcement is a critical step forward,” said Carol C. Diamond, M.D., chair of Markle Connecting for Health and managing director of the Markle Foundation’s Information Technologies for Better Health Group. “There is an urgent need to ensure that information systems become interoperable so that vital health information is available when and where it is needed in a way that protects patient privacy and security.”
In his address, the President pointed to the inefficiency and the threat to patient safety posed by a health care system based on paper records and varied electronic standards.
“Patient safety also improves when doctors can have access to health records without delay,” Mr. Bush said. “When a patient has a medical emergency far from home, the attending physician should have quick access to that person’s medical records. Yet the health care industry, while progressing in many areas, has lagged in information technology.” “Right now, as you all know better than most, health care records are kept in different formats—believe it or not, a lot of times on paper. In files. That can get lost,” Mr. Bush said. He added that in the budget for next year he is proposing an increase of 53 percent for funding to help hospitals use information technology. In the present paper-based healthcare system millions of high quality providers are bogged down with unnecessary paper. The development of electronic health records will allow providers to refocus their attention—spending more time with patients and less time with paper—which is exactly what they want to be doing.
“President Bush’s statement gives momentum to an interconnected future in health care,” said Russell J. Ricci, MD, General Manager, IBM Global Healthcare Industry and Executive Vice Chair of Markle Connecting for Health. “We support his leadership in this matter as well as the leadership of those in the Congress who are addressing these issues in order to improve the safety, quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care.”