Blumenthal at HIE Summit: “Information is the lifeblood of medicine”

Blumenthal at HIE Summit:
“Information is the lifeblood of medicine”;
To meet with Alvarez of Canada Health Infoway
Declaring ”Information is the lifeblood of medicine,” National Coordinator of Health IT David Blumenthal spoke before 200+ participants at The College of Physicians of  Philadelphia on November 10, 2009. Blumenthal was continuing his six-month campaign to transform medical practice in the US, speaking at the site of the oldest professional medical society in America and the location for the Health Information Exchange Summit sponsored by the Consulate of Canada and its trade commissioner Vincent Finn.

“Practioners are only as good as their information to make a decision,” Blumenthal maintained. As a primary care physician for 30 years, Blumenthal said it’s “the vision of improved care that informs our policy,” not the implementation of technology.

Richard Alvarez, President & CEO of Canada Health Infoway, equivalent to the US Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), spoke of his goal of using innovative technology to improve health care delivery with the intention of achieving EHRs for 50% of Canadians by 2010. While a recent national report found that Infoway faced major challenges in reaching that goal (current implementation is 17%), Canada’s Auditor General wrote “Infoway has accomplished much in the eight years since its creation.”

Blumenthal told how he looked forward to meeting with Alvarez to compare notes in the near future and learn from Canada’s experience. Several other Canadian HIT leaders shared their experiences as well.

In addition, privacy and security, interoperability and meaningful use, and HIE sustainability were discussed by three panels of leading area and national leaders. Some highlights from these panels will be summarized in a later post.

Two days before releasing ONC’s fourth letter to the public, this one on information exchange, Blumenthal alluded to two key aspects that are still in the planning stages–a workforce transformation initiative to train as many as 50,000 people to assist in EHR implementation and an initiative on clinical decision support (CDS) sytems.  Closed two-day stakeholder workshop meetings were held in August to inform the direction of each of these initiatives, and reported on recently in e-Healthcare Marketing.

The HIE Summit was produced in conjuntion with Pennsylvania eHealth Initiative (PAeHI) led by Executive Director Mark Stevens. PAeHI’s mission is to provide leadership in the use of information technology to improve healthcare quality. Additional local partners included HIMSS Delaware Valley Chapter and AHIMA Foundation. Seventeen of 23 exhibitors were Canadian Health IT firms seeking business in the US.

Consulate of Canada:
Canada Health Infoway:
Office of Nat’l Coordinator of Health IT:
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia:
AHIMA Foundation:
PHIMA (PA version of AHIMA):

See Dr. Blumenthal’s November 12, 2009 Letter (#4) to the Public about Information Exchange on previous e-Healthcare Marketing post.

One thought on “Blumenthal at HIE Summit: “Information is the lifeblood of medicine”

  1. US Health Information Director Blumenthal Addresses Electronic Medical Records in Philadelphia:
    Electronic, Personal Health Records definitions seen as Evolutionary

    Philadelphia, PA (November 10, 2009) Speaking at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology addressed the need for information technology to improve patient care across the “complex and difficult” spectrum of the US healthcare system.

    Dr. Blumenthal’s keynote address, presented at the Health Information Exchange Summit in coordination with the Canadian Consulate in Philadelphia and the Eastern Technology Council, focused on resolutions related to Health Information Technology from the Office of the National Coordinator’s Policy Committee. Primary among the issues related to adoption of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) for all physicians and patients by 2014, Dr. Blumenthal spent a large portion of his 40 minute speech on achieving “meaningful use” from Electronic Medical Records.

    Citing advisory committee findings and the need to improve patient care, Dr. Blumenthal indicated that a definition of “meaningful use” EMR should be in place by the end of 2009. Following will be a 60 day comment period and a period of reconsiderations leading to a final definition of meaningful use.

    Based on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, physicians can qualify for up to $44,000 in incentives for switching from paper-based to Electronic Medical Records. In order to receive such funds, an EMR system must demonstrate “meaningful use” which is currently defined as having the ability to electronically prescribe medications, exchange information and report on quality data.

    “We are impressed with the communication and openness from Dr. Blumenthal and the ONC regarding expectations of EMR systems as they will greatly affect on the patient-doctor encounter. As more than 300 million US patients become aware of their Personal Health Records and EMR, we expect quite an influence on policy to be formulated by the consumer” said Douglas Wallace, Executive V.P. with

    Blumenthal commented on the evolutionary nature of both EMR and Personal Health Records in reaching a final definition on meaningful use, and that public comments and wisdom will help to frame the EMR policy. Additionally, Dr. Blumenthal commented that estimates hold that the health IT vertical market may be 50,000 workers short in an increasingly complex field.

    For complete coverage on Dr. Blumenthal’s presentation and more on “meaningful use” EMR, stimulus funding and HIT policy, visit

    Based in Fort Washington, PA, connects physicians to healthcare technology solutions and assists healthcare providers in fulfilling their vision for outstanding patient care. To learn more about how can assist your practice, visit

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