In his State of the Union speech, President Obama cited computer chips and the Internet as examples of technologies that were originally funded by the government, and later unleashed new industries.
Another piece of technology that could have been co-opted by the private sector, but unfortunately hasn’t is an open source electronic health record (EHR) called VistA that the government developed 15 years ago at a cost of $8 billion. Obama briefly mentioned veterans being able to download their electronic medical records. Not the rest of us. That’s because veterans use VistA. VA Hospitals have been ahead of most everyone else in implementing EHRs. It is free, and anyone can download it. Some hospitals, such as Lutheran HealthCare in Brooklyn, and Midland Memorial in Texas recently have.
Now the government is shelling out some $20 billion in subsidies to encourage hospitals and doctors to purchase pricey EMRs that are incompatible with each other. A boon for the Cerners and Allscripts, but not for patients who won’t be able to access their medical records from anywhere anytime soon.
Click on EHRs and the Internet to access Zina Moukheiber's blog.