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Saturday, February 27, 2010

The mural at the ONC meeting

Originally uploaded by ThroopCat
On Wednesday, February 25, I attended a meeting held by the Department of Health & Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The meeting was entitled "HIT Policy Committee Adoption/Certification Workgroup". As doctors were blaming a lot of the medical errors found within the EMR on software bugs, I stared at the mural on the wall. We were in a large ballroom at the OMNI Shoreham. The room was set up to seat around 200, and I would say about 60 people were there. The audience listened to the speakers intently and did not gaze about the room. I was happy to be in a room so filled with art.

The meeting continued, and E-Patient Dave spoke briefly in the support of patients' rights to data. In the entire morning session he was the only voice presenting the patient, and he had five minutes to speak. His speech was impassioned and engaging. His supporting notes within the meeting packet were well thought-out and contained the only illustration in the entire packet. He used two cartoons depicting cars either damaged by or soon to be damaged by new female drivers. I laughed when I saw it. Once, women were not considered educated enough to drive, just as now patients are not considered educated enough to read their own record. I also laughed because throughout the morning presenters and the committee were using car metaphors.

I heard that we would need to "put pedal to the metal to get this done". I heard that we are in an age in which the automobile has been created (EMR) and the horse and buggy (PAPER RECORD) must be retired. I heard about the long a process before us to make the "roads" for this new conveyance. I heard a lot of top down ideas on implementation discussed. I thought of Toyota. I was very surprised only one man mentioned this current public relations nightmare. Each day on the radio I have heard many aspects of the Toyota scandal. There was a lack of transparency, individuals were complaining of the same problems with their cars but could not aggregate their data, and the public was very angry.

I thought of Toyota and medicine and stared at the mural on the wall. It depicted four or five well-manicured lawns with mansions on each hill. Framing this scene was a dark and wild forest with a ribbon of red throughout the branches of the trees. A stormy sky was building and approaching the quaint controlled landscape scene. The painter designed this piece to feel like you are in the forest looking out. I laughed out loud. This painting was perfect for this room and this time. We are the patients; we are the forest. We are wild, immense, and very old. We may not be as trained and as educated as yonder grape vine or cherry tree, but our roots are deep, and we are encroaching. The only thing holding us back from the being a larger part of the picture is the red tape wound throughout our branches.

I hope the HIT committee will help remove some of the red tape and let us take our part. I hope of some of them looked up at the mural and saw the bigger picture.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for posting this blog.. Really very interesting..