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2/27/2014
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Hillary Clinton: Cooperation, Technology Will Solve Big Healthcare Issues

Genuine healthcare reform is possible only when all stakeholders leave their blaming, shaming, and ideology at the door, Clinton tells HIMSS conference attendees.

Let's put aside our differences and rely on the evidence to solve healthcare's problems, says former Secretary of State and healthcare reform advocate Hillary Clinton.

Speaking Wednesday at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference in Orlando, Clinton emphasized that the debate on healthcare reform should be guided by good data and not ideology. 

Much of that data, Clinton said, has been generated by members of the healthcare IT community, whom she praised as true innovators and future-thinkers. "I wanted to thank you for modernizing the US healthcare system to empower patients and provide information to support medical professionals [to improve quality of care and reduce costs]." She got a large round of applause when she reminded the audience, "You've been doing this for more than half a century. It must be a little gratifying to see the debate catch up with where you have been."

As further proof that she has been "on our side" for many years, Clinton reminded her audience that she, Newt Gingrich, and Senator William Frist, MD, worked on early legislation to promote EHRs while she was in the Senate. "And today… we are finally seeing the promise of electronic health records," she said, leaving behind the outdated 20th century ways that records were kept.

The promise and power of EHRs was forcefully demonstrated for Clinton when she visited with survivors of Hurricane Katrina and saw firsthand the confusion and less-than-optimal care offered to patients whose paper records were destroyed by the storm -- and the much better care provided to those whose medication records had been stored in digital systems.

"But none of this is possible without the right infrastructure and the right regulator environment. Technology specialists like you are no longer focused solely on making patient data accessible to providers," she said. "You're now playing a leading role in making sure medical teams have that data to gain new insights and efficiencies."

Her take-home message here was straightforward: Good data helps make for good decisions. "It's important to be guided by evidence about what works and what doesn't, not ideology or past practices or personally held beliefs," she said. She contrasted that evidence-based mindset to what she described as the "evidence-free zone" she has seen recently in Washington.

A case in point, in Clinton's view, is what she referred to as "the hyper-politicized debate" about the Affordable Care Act. "From the beginning," she said, "it's been more about ideology than data… It will take all of us working together… and we will have to be willing to work with people we may not agree with, but that’s one of our great strengths as a nation."

To drive home that last point about Americans having the capacity for compromise and cooperation, Clinton spoke of the reaction of many foreigners she encountered in her travels, who were bewildered by the fact that she was appointed secretary of state after Obama pushed her out of the race for president. She stated it bluntly: "Someone who ran against another candidate and lost might get imprisoned or exiled [in a less democratic nation], not be asked to become secretary of state."

Applying that lesson to healthcare reform, Clinton went on to say, "I want to see us have a debate where our differences are fully aired… But we do need people who are looking to approach problems using evidence, but leaving their blaming, their shaming, the point-scoring at the door."

Paul Cerrato has worked as a healthcare editor and writer for 30 years, including for InformationWeek Healthcare, Contemporary OBGYN, RN magazine and Advancing OBGYN, published by the Yale University School of Medicine. He has been extensively published in business and ... View Full Bio

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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
2/27/2014 | 9:17:29 AM
Your reaction to Hillary at HIMSS?
Were you in the audience for the Hillary Clinton keynote? Did you think she said anything significant?Or do you agree with this critic (via Twitter)

Will our host at #HIMSS14 ask @HillaryClinton to discuss HIT? This is a campaign ad. Will we take a collection for a PAC next? Unacceptable

David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
2/27/2014 | 9:21:59 AM
Re: Your reaction to Hillary at HIMSS?
My colleague Alison Diana will have a follow up with reaction from HIMSS attendees a little later today.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
2/27/2014 | 2:00:43 PM
Re: Your reaction to Hillary at HIMSS?
I think most of us can agree that the healthcare industry needed to be pulled into adopting 21st century technology, including EHRs. But the "hyper-politicized debate" about the Affordable Care Act is something altogether different. If that debate has been "more about ideology than data," as Clinton said, did she provide some data to support her position that Obamacare has been a success? I wasn't at the speech, so I don't know.
Paul Cerrato
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Paul Cerrato,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/27/2014 | 3:05:09 PM
Re: Your reaction to Hillary at HIMSS?
To answer Rob's question,  Clinton's speech contained very little hard-core data, including anything you could really sink your teeth into regarding the success of the ACA. Her presentation was mostly a cheerleader's approach to HIT, with lots of praise for IT professionals--and a call for bipartisanship.  

Paul Cerrato

Contributor Editor

InformationWeek Healthcare

 
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
2/28/2014 | 9:29:53 AM
Re: Your reaction to Hillary at HIMSS?
It was very much a pep rally, as one HIT professional told me, and her calls for a bipartisan approach to healthcare appeared to have an eye on 2016 -- as well as the hundreds of people spread through two conference rooms. Like many people I spoke to after the speech, I'd have preferred to hear more meat and potatoes: what does she want to do next with healthcare/HIT? What is/isn't working? Where will the money come from and where will it go? What about privacy? Who is going to store this data? Is government really planning a national database of patient information: And if so, please let's talk about all the scary implications this has. 

Despite lots of questioning, both on-site and via email, LinkedIn, and HIMSS' messaging system, I didn't get many answers from attendees about the back-to-back Clinton keynotes. Last year, Bill Clinton spoke. This year it was Hillary. 
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2014 | 8:43:51 AM
Re: Your reaction to Hillary at HIMSS?
Rob, you beat me to the punch. It's a pretty hypocritical statement considering how this is a core part of the Democratic idiology - to provide healthcare to the masses. I just read it as more rhetoric in order to further their agenda.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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2/27/2014 | 3:52:03 PM
Before cooperation, there's that contested election
If Hillary runs for President, ObamaCare may one day be replaced by ClintonCare. What's the difference? Principles would remain the same but the Web site works.
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2014 | 8:44:27 AM
Re: Before cooperation, there's that contested election
Does it? Have you even tried to use it?
Research: Healthcare IT Priorities
Research: Healthcare IT Priorities
Meeting regulatory requirements barely inched out managing digital patient data as the top priority for our 363 healthcare provider IT pros.
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