Dr. David Blumenthal was recently interviewed by InformationWeek and also posted a blog in Health IT Buzz. To read the complete interview and blog post, below are the two links.

The drumbeat for understanding Meaningful Use and implementing health IT to meet the new standards continues to grow.  For those with limited time, a few interesting Dr. Blumenthal quotes to consider:

Personal experiences with health IT…
“I resisted using EHRs while an internist in Boston, as I wrote in my blog, ‘Why Be a Meaningful User.’ Over time, however, I found that working with health IT made me a better and safer physician. Most importantly, my patients received better, safer care and improved outcomes.”

“But I am glad I did it, as are 90 percent of all physicians who adopt an EHR, according to a scientific survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine. My EHR made me a better doctor.  I really knew what was going on with my patients.  I could answer their questions better and more accurately.  I made better decisions.  I felt more in control.”

On the importance…
“In future stages of meaningful use our goal is to make sure that information follows patients. Organizations that participate in the care of patients must support the gathering of information in ways that meet the full needs of patients regardless of where they get their care. So if you're a hospital in a city and a patient gets specialty care in a network of physicians or at a hospital other than yours, I expect the criteria for meaningful use to take into account the ability of hospitals to move information to those other specialty providers whether or not they're affiliated.”

Why do it now…
“First, the sooner physicians start using an EHR, the sooner they and their patients will realize its benefits – the ability to share patient data with colleagues and patients, the ability to retrieve old data effortlessly, the ability to access patient records remotely, so they answer patient questions intelligently from home, or even from a medical meeting."

"Second, right now, the federal government is making a once in a lifetime, never to be repeated, offer: it will help physicians pay for the transition with up to $44,000 in extra fees from Medicare, or $63,750 from Medicaid…"

"Third, anyone who is building a practice, and wanting to recruit young, talented physicians needs to confront the reality that the next generation will expect and demand that their own medical home have a modern information system… I know young physicians will never settle for paper records.”

On the implementation hurdles…
“The concerns are the cost of acquiring the records, the technical challenge of putting them into place, and possible lost of productivity at first. They also raise questions about whether these systems will be compatible with their practice, their style, and their ability to do their work. That's mostly what's on people's minds.”

The outlook…
“We’re optimistic, we're moving forward, and we’re deploying a whole series of new programs. We still have 16 months before providers have to demonstrate meaningful use. Under the notice of proposed rulemaking, it's not until Oct. 2011 when folks have to start documenting their meaningful use.”

Dr. Blumenthal’s comments seem to be made to encourage, challenge, and keep the focus on doing the right things to realize the objectives of HITECH. All of the puzzle pieces of Meaningful Use and the roadmap to healthcare interoperability need to be well-defined, and then the real work will continue with an added sense of urgency and balance.

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