The health information technology field is the Wild, Wild West, according to Neal Patterson, co-founder and CEO of Cerner, a maker of health IT systems. And Mr. Patterson says that we are on the brink of another land run, just like the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889.
Follow me, now: The money contained in the stimulus bill for health IT, and the money that is to come in the federal budget and from elsewhere, are like the acres and acres of land that were free for the taking back in the day. And just like back in the day, lots and lots of folks are trying to get in on the HIT gig, and will continue to do so in the coming months and year, to claim for themselves a share of what is poised to become a billion-dollar industry.
But this time, we need to be way more careful. We can’t mess this up. In the words of Dr. Rob Kolodner, HHS’s national HIT Coordinator and another speaker today: although there is a lot of federal money to be had, if it isn’t spent wisely, it won’t be nearly enough. “We need $10 of impact for every $1 we spend.” And once the money is spent, it’s gone. We’ve got this one chance to set things up the way we want them.
“We need a vision,” says Patterson, with a twinkle in his eye. His great grandaddy was just one year too young to participate in the run. Looks like pioneering is in his blood.