J.P. Morgan hosted its first health IT panel ever at its annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr was the moderator. Doerr is best known for being an early Internet backer with Netscape, Amazon, and later Google. But he is no stranger to Health IT. He has funded his brother Tom Doerr, a physician who has developed an electronic health record (EHR) for small practices.
The panel included Aneesh Chopra, the Chief Technology Officer-in chief, and HHS’ CTO Todd Park. By the way, those two chiefs are quite the pair with their rah-rahs; health IT couldn’t ask for better cheerleaders. Park is also a prolific entrepreneur. He’s a founder of Athenahealth, an EHR company, and Castlight which allows consumers to comparison-shop for health care procedures. In an ongoing crowdsourcing project, Forbes selected it as a name you need to know in 2011.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt was also on that panel. Schmidt is a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST recently released a report calling for the creation of a “universal exchange language,” to enable patients to access their information from wherever they are. That can’t be done now, since all those EHRs on the market are incompatible with one another.
Schmidt rattled off that 80% of doctors offices are not computerized, and even large health care organizations have closed systems that are not interoperable. His recommendation: Why not adopt software that can be open-sourced? It might be news to Schmidt, but such software has already been developed by none other than the government at a cost of $8 billion, and the VA hospitals have been using it successfully for 15 years. I wrote about it here.
Adopting open source software would be more convenient for patients, since it would allow them to access their medical records from anywhere, and it would be less costly for hospitals and doctors who shell out lots of money to buy closed, proprietary software. And, of course we wouldn’t have to appoint presidential panels to come out with the obvious recommendations.