Hey Washington, don't forget the EMRs

As you no doubt know by now, President Obama gave a televised address to a joint session of Congress last night, trying to get his healthcare reform plan back on track after a rocky month-and-a-half that saw his approval ratings plummet. I caught a bit of the speech and a lot of the post-game punditry, but didn't make it a high priority. Why? I cover health IT.

Read Obama's remarks. See if you can find a single reference to electronic health records, electronic medical records or health IT. I can't. It's almost like Congress passed and the president signed the stimulus bill with a lot of cash for EMRs, then turned to address health reform as a separate issue. All I have heard the last few weeks is about insurance reform. The best insurance coverage in the world just means that someone else will pay for your care, not that you will receive good care or that your doctor will have all the necessary information available to make the proper decisions about your health.

Rolling Stone ran a long feature about health reform last week that purported to take the politicians to task for "screwing up" meaningful reform. I stopped reading once I realized there would be little talk about quality of care and how our dear readers--the EMR cognoscenti--might be able to help fix what Rolling Stone calls "not only the worst but the dumbest health care system in the developed world." Other than a brief mention of the fact that we spend so much money on sick care rather than prevention, it's a long story about insurance reform.

Folks, health reform is about far more than insurance. If our leaders and policymakers look at insurance in isolation and forget about the quality part, we're just perpetuating the silo mentality. Keep the silos intact and we're doomed to failure. - Neil