Once more, that’s the problem with all these folks, they don’t participate.  Everyone in Health IT can see it and we make posts such as this one on blogs to discuss it.  If he really wanted to learn about Health IT, it would behoove him to visit the Garfield Center at Kaiser, he would learn a lot at that place.  I’m looking through the lists of questions on the Wall Street Journal and I feel sorry for hospitals having to answer some of these questions and can imagine what the IT folks are saying imagetoo as they are posed from a “non participant” stand point.  Being an E-Patient is the best way for members of Congress to gain knowledge and understand what the public is looking for in reform.

Health IT vendors and hospitals work together very closely as both want success, the only problem they have is the money to improve and update systems as needed, something the “non participants’ don’t quite understand.  Again I am speaking out a bit here, but you can find these same under tones all over the web and perhaps at a hospital near you.

“What are the vendors’ roles in helping your facility train in the use of their products?” is one of the questions that somewhat makes me think “duh”, systems do not get installed unless training comes with it, so gee come on, that is figured into the price for goodness sakes as without it, any installation will have problems.  I also like the question regarding a system to follow up on complaints, come on, this has been ongoing everywhere forever.  The first stop is called “the help desk”.  Are we so far out of this we have not encountered one of those?  The relationship question is one more to sigh at, sure they all hate each other right, NOT.  Mr. Grassley might bone up on what “partnerships” are all about today, the world lives on them, but maybe we’re a bit slow here, but you almost have to read news on internet maybe for this to sink in.  The link at the Wall Street Journal has all the questions in the letter spelled out, read it and see what I mean.

Anyway, I would love to be a fly on the wall and watch the expressions of the IT departments receiving this questionnaire.  I am just convinced from what I see in the press that Mr. Grassley doesn’t like change as he made statements today after the election in Massachusetts that we should put the brakes on healthcare reform.  When information like this hits the press and everybody who participates and is well educated in IT sees this stuff, it’s just one more waste of time and effort with rhetoric.  He’s one of many representatives we have in Congress that continues to live in the 70s and appears to have a difficult time seeing value with technology, so we are back to the old head hunting and finding blame methodologies instead of moving forward.  Again, I truly believe if he were in fact an E-Patient and participated a bit more from the technology side of a patient, he would understand some of this, but you can only drag a horse to water and can’t make them drink.  He could even read some of what is published on this blog and get educated for that matter, others do.  BD 

Chuck Grassley, a Republican senator and a prolific author of letters, has written to more than 30 hospitals to ask about their experiences — including “complications,” “errors” and “problems” — with health IT systems.

The letters follow a barrage Grassley sent out last fall to some of the companies that sell electronic systems to hospitals and doctors, asking some similar questions.

Health IT is a big deal at the moment, of course, because of the tens of billions of dollars included in last year’s stimulus bill to encourage doctors and hospitals to buy and use electronic systems

Grassley Asks Hospitals About Problems With Health IT Systems - Health Blog - WSJ


  1. Hi Barbara:

    The way that I see Grassley is that he's one of the few Congressmen who has spurned the HIMSS lobbyists to ask the difficult questions, especially when other politicians are claiming that the "certified" EHR improves quality, decreases errors, and decreases costs.

    There are numerous studies that show the opposite on all three counts and not one article/study that has demonstrated statistically, in a well run prospective 2-3 arm study against paper or the "basic EMR" that these end points are true. Also, the true end points- increased survival has yet to be discussed except in that infamous 2005 pediatric ICU study where they found that more babies died when an EHR was used vs paper.

    Showing Kaiser as the pinnacle of HIT is not a good idea. Kaiser spent $4 billion on their Epic system that had massive cost overruns and was consistently behind schedule in implementation. They still can't communicate as well as the Veteran's Hospital System's VISTA EMR- Kaiser's west coast providers can't readily communicate with the EHR from those in the east coast. You'd expect them to have that fixed by now.

    Congress could probably make better use of the $20 billion dollar HITECH funds for free clinics for the poor, for increased child health care, and to help sustain the viability of Medicare.

    So I say: "Go Grassley, go!"


  2. Barbara:

    Like Al above, I don't really agree with your premise that Mr. Grassley is missing anything here.

    In fact, I think he's right on target. He has raised some legit issues about the way EHR vendors structure their contracts with providers, in a way that prevents disclosure of flaws in the EHR systems themselves...flaws that could adversely affect the quality of care (for e-patients and non-e-patients alike).

    Grassly's decision to raise the issue now is a timely one, b/c taxpayer dollers are now being allocated to drive the dissemination of EHRs via HITECH. And the EHR vendors themselves can't be expected to make the changes required here, since they are justified in doing everything they can to protect their business interests.

    Either regulatory or legal intervention is required, in my opinion.

    Glenn Laffel, MD, PhD
    Sr VP Clinical Affairs
    Practice Fusion
    Free, Web-based EHR

  3. I certainly agree on investigating how the business of EHRs and Health IT is being run here, but my question is, is this another dry run and will the reporting result in anything being done? Having written an EMR myself a few years ago and integrating at desk levels I have a pretty good idea of what makes data tick and run.

    Again my fear here is what will occur from all of this? Will they understand how the business functions and how important data is on both the consumer and clinical side of the issue, thus I recommend all to get more involved in learning how the evolving world of Health IT is functioning today and there's nothing like sticking one's toe in the water in finding out first hand.

    I have often said that the payer end of healthcare should be accountable as well as the software side (EHRs) to guarantee that those formulas and algorithms are performed correctly as well, which nobody has gone there:)

    Again, the movement for better care is to have everyone get involved in their own care and using new technologies that are available out there and members of Congress should be no different than the rest of us, it helps with the education process and hopefully we will get smarter and better laws and compliance issues as a result, along with good affordable healthcare.

    That's my take, get educated at all levels.


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