Fast Talk: Bush’s Record Collector

Dr. Robert Kolodner

National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, D.C.

Dr. Robert Kolodner, 59, advises HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt on health IT initiatives and oversees the federal government’s efforts to get doctors, hospitals, and medical providers nationwide to adopt electronic medical records by 2014.

“Just as you can use a Nokia phone on a Verizon network to call someone using a Motorola phone on a Sprint network, there should be data mobility when it comes to your health information. I don’t think people understand how much better health-care quality would be if doctors and hospitals routinely used electronic records. It would help providers coordinate care, minimize errors, and allow consumers to be more engaged in their own health care. Personal electronic record systems [like Dossia] now entering the marketplace need to be compatible with our focus on getting provider electronic records.

Once information is online, there is always some risk. But paper records are not immune to risks. With electronic systems, you have the potential for greater protections with access controls and audit trails. Right now, only about 10% of U.S. doctors use electronic medical records compared to 90% in some countries. One of our challenges is to inspire communities to demand that their health care moves electronically. What if you could update one medical history online and get rid of that darn clipboard with the sheet of questions that you fill out in every doctor’s office at every visit?”