Healthcare is a complex topic, just ask anyone about their last major surgery or visit to the doctor’s and suddenly you find yourself in a discussion where foreign-sounding words and acronyms are being thrown around. Toss into the mix the topic of information technology and it’s no wonder the current debate and discussion around Health IT becomes exponentially more confusing.
A couple of weeks ago in DC, I was part of a panel discussion on Health IT in the context of the current federal health initiatives and its desired outcomes. We had a solid panel spanning experts on Health IT standards to those that have led projects to provide more reliable health care delivery through the use of technology.
– Dr. Steven Galson who was the acting surgeon general of the United States (2007-09) and is currently the operations manager for SAIC’s Civilian Health Organization
– Mr. David Walsh who currently chairs the MITA Technical Architecture committee and is president of eServices Group
– Mr. Raymond Sullivan who was the Executive Director of the Veterans Administration Office of Information Technology and is now the VP of Health IT Solution at General Dynamics
The discussion kicked off with some candid comments on the definition of “meaningful use” and the general confusion by both public and private sector on how the regulations translates into the day-to-day operations of providers and payers.
As a guy who’s been around the block more than once in the technology industry, I’ve had the opportunity to witness a plethora of developments, ideas and concepts, some good, some not so good. One particular debate, or perhaps, a point is confusion, is around the word ‘open’. In the early days of computing, groups of like minded individuals came together for the purpose of defining standard ways to ‘do things’. For the most part, these folks realized that it was generally better for the industry as well as the users of technology to establish standards so that systems AND people could work together. There is no doubt that many of these groups have changed the nature of computing and technology for the better. Email flows, the internet works, people can view documents, pictures, listen to music, etc.
As an employee of Adobe and a LONG time user of the Internet, I am a big fan of PDF. I wanted to make sure I made that point clear right up front. However, as a technologist and a LONG time user of the Internet, I am just as big a fan of XML! And likewise, I wanted to make THAT clear as well.
Before jumping in, I would like to refer you over to a couple, somewhat more historic blog entries from one of my colleagues, Jim King. Jim is a PDF Architect and a Senior Principal Scientist for Adobe and most certainly knows this topic better than most anyone I know. Check these entries out – XML for – XML Documents. I bring these ideas back to the forefront as it seems perhaps the lessons need to be revisited within the context of open and transparent government.
The Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC) is a list of security settings managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for US government computers. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued instructions to agencies to use these settings with a vendor’s self-assertion of desktop applications working with FDCC settings.
Adobe Acrobat 9.0 and Adobe Reader 9.0 have been tested and meet the NIST FDCC compliance guidelines according to the testing process provided in OMB memo m08‐22.
I had the priviledge to speak at the first annual FPPOA – National IT Conference & Expo yesterday in Universal City. They had very good attendence and the atmosphere was brimming with interest on a topic I am passionate about, the use of technology to transform how we do things.
Even now, as I peck at the keyboard, I know that once I click on the “publish” button, you will have the opportunity almost instantly to read my ramblings. I still remember the days when I would put printed articles ready to be laid out through a waxing process and roll it onto a large newsprint template and wait half a day until the story was printed and delivered.
Information used to, and still travels on paper. Words and photos are gently laid down on bleached, pressed wood pulp. When we want to archive these words of wisdom, much of it is still stored as paper filling large rooms in dark building basements and other scary places.