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A Republican making sense

What all this points to is a key year on the health IT beat. There is a consensus that spending will increase, a consensus on what we want to accomplish, and growing consensus on how to get there.

Mike Leavitt, HHS Secretary retires in 2009Whatever your own political leanings you want the people who work for you to be honest and competent.

Outgoing HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt has been both, and he is leaving his successors with some straight talk about IT, and a good roadmap.

Putting Robert Kolodner, who has extensive open source experience, at the center of the effort, and building a public-private group to get behind it, will both pay major dividends.

Leavitt followed that up with a valedictory address where he correctly identified the biggest obstacle to progress, privacy, and offered some principles for guaranteeing it.

Lest you think the principles -- openness and transparency, access, choice, safeguards, accountability -- were mere boilerplate, he also offered a Web site that put some meat on those bones.

The best practices list is not a mandate, as some reports have suggested, but Leavitt is certain a mandate for health IT will come, so he lay down some markers to prepare for the transition.

What all this points to is a key year on the health IT beat. There is a consensus that spending will increase, a consensus on what we want to accomplish, and growing consensus on how to get there.

The only devil is in the details. And that represents real progress.