Blumenthal: Meaningful use timeline is appropriate

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David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for health information technology for the Department of Health and Human Services

The question healthcare providers are facing today is "whether we are pushing too hard, too fast to make this important change," stated David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health IT, on his blog this week. “I respectfully submit, no,” stated Blumenthal. “In turn, I ask, ‘Can we make these changes expeditiously enough?’”

Introducing change in healthcare is never easy, according to Blumenthal. He recounted his initial resistance to using EHRs as an internist in Boston while learning, over time, that working with health IT made him a “better and safer physician.”

“Most importantly, my patients received better, safer care and improved outcomes,” offered Blumenthal. “There are thousands of stories like mine across the nation.”

According to Blumenthal, Americans deserve better healthcare than they are currently receiving, and they need it delivered more efficiently. While acknowledging the challenge, Blumenthal believes that “every provider, every patient throughout our nation will benefit from the goals envisioned by the HITECH Act.”

Re-assuring his readers that doctors and hospitals will not be on their own, Blumenthal cited programs, such as the 60 regional extension centers located throughout the U.S., that are working hard to ensure that providers have all the necessary resources to meet the challenge.

“This is the time to realize the promise of health IT,” wrote Blumenthal. “IT has improved every aspect of our lives, we need to channel IT to improve our health and care. Providing patients with improved quality and safety, more efficient care and better outcomes is paramount. As the saying goes, ‘If not now, when?’”

“I welcome your comments, and ask you to share your stories on how health IT has changed your practice,” concluded Blumenthal.