A long-serving senator has warned of a techno-Katrina if unsettled issues over the interoperability of healthcare information technology arent addressed in short order.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, lauded the promise of health IT for its ability to reduce errors and streamline care, but said that slow-to-develop guidelines that would allow different computer systems to work together could quell momentum for broad-scale healthcare reform.
The failure to have clear, national standards quickly could result in a fiscal and case management boondoggle, Mikulski told Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who will likely head HHS under the Obama administration. So we want a boon and not a doggle.
Earlier this week, Sebelius, in her first public appearance before lawmakers since being chosen by President Barack Obama to lead a massive effort to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, said she would work to speed the healthcare industrys move away from paper to computers.
We cant have a system where the systems cant talk to one another, Sebelius said. But if its done right, I am a believer that not only will it lower medical errors and lower costs, but empower consumers and providers in a way that we have not seen and unlock the innovation for health reform in America.
The governor, who will go in front of the Senate Finance Committee today for an official nomination hearing, also praised the appointment of David Blumenthal, a physician who was named by the White House as the national coordinator for health information technology.