Are electronic and personal health records inevitable?

Kolodner has written that this year represents a "tipping point" for the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) by doctors and hospitals and Personal Health Records (PHRs) by individuals.

Robert Kolodner, Health IT Coordinator, U.S. governmentAs I have written here before the key man in the reform of our health IT infrastructure is Dr. Robert Kolodner.

Kolodner is the national coordinator, health information technology, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and his background makes him a good man to have in that job.

That's because much of his hands-on experience involves VistA, the VA's public record health system. He seems to understand the benefits of open source and open standards.

Kolodner has written that this year represents a "tipping point" for the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) by doctors and hospitals and Personal Health Records (PHRs) by individuals.

He can give chapter-and-verse on the benefits, and at a Health IT Summit in Pensacola, Florida earlier this month he did just that.

An infrastructure of electronic records, which patients can access and contribute to, could cut mistakes in care and help in prevention, he believes, with research to back the claim.

The Strategic Health Intelligence Summit brought Kolodner together with the head of the Military Health System, which has favored vendor-led (read proprietary) technology. By all accounts they got along.

That is important, because while open, royalty-free standards are essential for interoperation, it makes no sense to scrap existing systems in the process. Dialogue will be necessary for that to happen.

A universal infrastructure of EHRs and PHRs can provide prevention, coordination, convenience and better self-care, he said.

The key question is whether the incoming Administration will allow AHIC Successor, the "governance" body outgoing HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt helped bring into being this month, will continue in its central role, or whether that will go back inside the new government.

These are not issues on which there is much partisan dispute. So the guess here is that it will continue, albeit with new appointees from the new Administration.