There’s a place for healthy partisan differences, and a place for bipartisanship. This initiative goes into the latter category. Whether you’re a free-market radical, a single-payer advocate, or something in between, better collection and analysis of information will help the delivery of medical care.
(Single-marketers take note: Primary physicians in Europe and the UK are well ahead of their U.S. and Canadian counterparts in the adoption of IT.)
A group of Senators that includes Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Orrin Hatch has sponsored a bill called The Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2007. It provides $163 million over a four-year period (that’s not very much) to help providers who don’t make very much money adopt news IT strategies. It would also help states create low-interest loan programs for them, and provide funding for local and regional initiatives to collect and share health data.
The bill would also require that HHS designate an organization to create health care performance measures, which is an important step forward. If adopted, this bill will help create the electronic infrastructure for a better health system – whatever you imagine that system to be.
I don’t think there’s enough money in the bill. It provides $40 million and change per year for four years. That’s less than a few dozen costly medical cases will cost in each of those years. But it’s a start, and that’s a good thing.