10 Years After the Revolution: Health IT Coordinators Look Back at the Nation's Progress

Supporters point to advances such as greater takeup of EHRs by doctors, though critics say federal policymakers pushed technology long before it was ready.

On April 26, 2004, President George W. Bush formally launched the federal drive to widely disseminate health information technology to improve patient care. In a speech in Minnesota, Bush set a goal that within 10 years, “every American must have a personal electronic medical record,” adding, “The federal government has got to take the lead in order to make this happen.”

The next day, by executive order, Bush created the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within HHS. A few days later, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson named Dr. David Brailer the first ONC leader.

Bush said the ONC should work with private sector healthcare organizations as well as all federal agencies with a hand in healthcare.

He ordered the coordinator to begin work on a national HIT strategy to promote the adoption and use of interoperable electronic health records to enhance clinical decisionmaking, improve quality, lower costs, reduce errors, improve coordination of care and ensure the privacy and security of patient data. He said the office should “not assume or rely upon additional federal resources or spending” to do its work. And in fact, later that year Congress zeroed out the ONC's $50 million budget request for 2005, forcing Thompson to finance the agency by reshuffling HHS' administrative funds.

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Source: Modern Healthcare