With more than $19 billion planned in new federal expenditures on health information technology, the Obama administration is taking serious steps towards modernizing the U.S. health care system to reduce health care costs and medical errors. Yet, implementing health IT requires fast data networks, interoperable software systems, and devices to enter and track patient data. Moreover, few hospitals, clinics and private practices have the funds to pay for new technology.
On May 4, the Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion on what needs to get done to bring the benefits of information technology to health care. Darrell West, Brookings Vice President and Director of Governance Studies and co-author of Digital Medicine: Health Care in the Internet Era (Brookings Institution Press, 2009), moderated the discussion with Nancy Johnson, co-chair of Health IT Now!; Dr. Charles Friedman, Deputy National Coordinator for Health Information Technology in the Office of the Secretary for Health and Human Services; and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).