U.S. Rep: Future bright for health IT
June 21, 2014 in Medical Technology
U.S. House Representative Michael Burgess, MD, R-Texas, vice-chair of the subcommittee on health within the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is an obstetrician and has not always been convinced of the benefits of health IT. But, Hurricane Katrina, changed his mind. And, today, Burgess is a champion.
As he told attendees at the keynote he delivered June 18 at the Government Health IT Conference in Washington, D.C., the cost of IT infrastructure in the 1980s in the large multi-specialty practice in which he practiced was prohibitive.
“It has not always been a happy alliance between the physician and the information architecture,” he said. “The transition of health IT for physicians has been clunky.”
[See also: Lawmakers speak up for healthcare IT.]
With the advent of the year 2000, Burgess was encouraged to purchase yet another computer system, which turned out to be unnecessary when Y2K did not wreak havoc that was expected. Yet another disappointing and costly experience in health IT, he admits.
Katrina turns the tide of health IT opinion
What turned the tables for Burgess was Hurricane Katrina. He saw first-hand the loss of vital patient information in water-logged hospitals, which later developed black mold and required biohazard gear to look at. Doctors did the best they could to fill in patient medical history with a patient’s verbal memory of their medication.
“Katrina provided a first-hand look at why EHRs are important,” Burgess said.
Now, his endorsement is strong. “If you want to save money in healthcare, it requires an electronic platform, for early detection and proper screening,” he said.
In addition, in states like his home state of Texas, telemedicine is imperative, with so few doctors per square mile. “There’s no question that the advances in telemedicine are opening up the ability to give quality care,” Burgess said.
Burgess notes how far things have come from when in the 1980s doctors would never hope to receive reimbursement for a telephone conversation with patients.
The `pause’ in meaningful use
Burgess said the opinion on the Meaningful Use EHR Incentive Program depends on “which side of the fence on which you sit.”
Farzad Mostashari, former national coordinator for health information technology told Burgess last year, “whatever you do, don’t delay meaningful use.”