The health care industry lags behind other sectors of the economy in using
information technology (IT), say IT experts.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has set a goal of implementing a
national electronic medical records (EMR) system within 10 years.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently convened a
summit to hear from health IT leaders about options to meet this goal."
Health information technology has the potential to greatly improve
health care even as it yields huge savings," according to a press
release from HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. "A national health
information network can save an estimated $140 billion annually in improved
care and reduced duplication of medical tests."
Thompson announced several actions by HHS and other organizations to
facilitate the adoption of a national EMR system.
To coordinate the government's activities and promote IT adoption by the
private health sector, last month President Bush directed the creation of a
new national health information technology office within HHS.
David Brailer, M.D., Ph.D., described by Thompson as "a national
leader in harnessing health IT to promote safe, quality, and efficient health
care," will head the new office.
One of Brailer's first tasks will be finding incentives in Medicare and
other federally funded programs to encourage the private sector to adopt
compatible EMR systems, according to Thompson's press release.
SNOMED CT can be downloaded from<http://umlsinfo.nlm.nih.gov>.
Users must register online for a free UMLS license before downloading the data
or requesting a copy on DVD. A press release on HHS efforts to promote IT are
posted online at<www.hhs.gov/news/press/2004pres/20040519a.html>.▪