What if the change train has no passengers? Getting the word out on NHIN, RHIO's and EMRs

During the years I worked in the television industry as a physician broadcaster, one of my news editors was always talking about "the change train". He would explain how the television industry was being transformed and that the change train was coming. "You can see the light of the train coming down the track", he would say. Then he would add, "You had better be prepared to get on that change train when it comes by, or it will run you over". 

I thought about the change train yesterday as I addressed nearly 5000 healthcare providers at the annual meeting of the National Association of Home Care and Hospice. I asked the audience that was largely made up of nurses, "How many of you have heard about the government's imperative for Electronic Medical Records; about the National Health Information Network and RHIO's; about Dr. David Brailer and the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology"? About a dozen hands went up into the air. I might have thought the paltry response was an anomaly if I hadn't asked the very same question to a large gathering of physicians not too long ago. Then too, very few hands could be seen among the vast crowd attending my presentation.

As someone who is passionate about the need for Electronic Medical Records and the promise of IT to improve care quality, safety and satisfaction, it is hard to believe that my colleagues are so uninformed. But then I think back to when I was head down seeing 40, 50 or 60 patients a day in a busy ambulatory clinic; trying to stay one jump ahead of the medical journals, the business requirements of my practice, and the attorneys ready to spring into action at the slightest gaff in my care. So, I guess I really do understand why Dr. David Brailer isn't yet a household name to so many in the profession.

None-the-less, the change train is coming down the tracks. You can smell the smoke and hear the rumble of the engine. The question is, will anybody get on when it comes whizzing by? Or will it just run us over?

What do you think? Let us know.

Bill Crounse, MD, Global Healthcare Industry Manager, Microsoft Healthcare and Life Sciences