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The health IT piranhas attack

Until the President appoints someone to run HHS, and that person appoints someone to oversee health IT, the only direction vendors will have will be from Bush Administration holdovers.

Since the signing of the stimulus bill my inbox has become filled with press releases touting vendors' ability to deliver on its promises.

Buy mine and prosper. So-and-so bought mine and prospered. Mine is buzzword compatible. Mine is more open than theirs.

For every release I have gotten, I'm sure the big boys of journalism have gotten 10. For each 1 those boys got I'm certain Washington has gotten 10 more.

There is a sense of urgency in spending this money. Stimulus is meant, not for normal times, but for a time when demand is slack, where the economy is a stalled engine, out of gas.

It made sense to put health IT into this bill. From a strategic standpoint it must have seemed like a shovel-ready bridge.

But it's not shovel-ready. Health IT will not deliver on the promises of this bill unless the Administration has a strategy. That strategy should be based on open standards and, I believe, open source. (We can debate the last.)

Most leading vendors, the folks who show up at HIMSS every year, are not yet ready to embrace that vision. Their interoperability roadmaps stretch out for years, and they are incomplete. Each hole in the map would be a black hole for stimulus money.

So what we're left with is a whole bunch of hungry vendors, without direction, trying to grab a bite of the cash.

It threatens to become like the TARP, a huge pile of money wasted because those who got it would not admit the depth of their problems.

Until the President appoints someone to run HHS, and that person appoints someone to oversee health IT, the only direction vendors will have will be from Bush Administration holdovers.

Some of them may deserve re-appointment, but until that decision is made they're as hapless as everyone else.

Is there anything we can do to prevent this health IT stimulus from becoming a piranha attack?