Obama highlights technology in reform efforts

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

President Barack Obama has said that improving health care and access to health care in this country will be a priority in his administration. As The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog and Scientific American point out, he mentioned health care twice in his inaugural address, including a vow to “wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.”

However, an article in ModernHealthcare reports on a survey that found 60 percent of Americans think that “when considering the federal budget, the incoming president and Congress should keep spending on health IT the same.” The Kaiser Family Foundation has an explanation of “How Changes in Medical Technology Affect Health Care Costs” from March 2007.



Computerworld says an electronic health records system could save the nation $300 billion a year, but that Obama faces some daunting hurdles in implementing such a system.

Froma Harrop, on Real Clear Politics, writes that foes of Obama’s proposed health care reforms are trying to defeat it by using unflattering labels, such as “socialized medicine” and “government takeover of health care.” But, she writes that, this time, “a national health plan may survive the bad rap.”

There certainly is no shortage of ideas about how to reform the system. The “inaugural edition” of Grand Rounds – a weekly summary of medical blogs – at MedPageToday is dedicated to health care reform, offering suggestions from the medical blogosphere. In the Jan. 26 issue of The New Yorker, Atul Gawande, M.D., writes about moving toward a national health care plan and looks at how other countries have undertaken the process. The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer recently ran three stories about some of the health care challenges that President-elect Obama and Congress are facing.

A Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey asked experts about priorities for the incoming administration and found a strong mandate for major elements of Obama’s health care reform proposal unveiled during the campaign.

Cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is optimistic that Obama can reform health care and hopes funding for cancer research will increase under the new administration.

Update: Scientific American examines whether Obama is right that technology can lower health care costs.

Note: AHCJ is gathering resources to track Obama’s plans for health care reform, as well as related topics in the new administration, such as appointments to surgeon general, HHS and FDA. Recent articles examine why previous health reform efforts have failed, key players in health care reform and steps to increase the efficiency of the health care system. A tip sheet has links to previous coverage as well as contact information for some important sources.

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