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Nashville: The New Hotbed for Health IT Innovation

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, July 7, 2009

There are only a handful of regions in the United States that have the knowledge base, capital access, local leadership, and infrastructure to be the innovative leader in health IT. And Nashville, TN, is a "tremendous contender," said David Brailer, MD, PhD, chairman of San Francisco, CA-based Health Evolution Partners, during the Nashville Health Care Council's forum on health information technology and the economic stimulus held nearly two weeks ago.

It has been awhile since we've heard from Brailer, the former National Coordinator of HIT. He joked how arriving in Nashville on Southwest Airlines was a completely different experience than his last visit when he arrived on Air Force One. Brailer was joined by William W. Stead, MD, associate vice chancellor for strategy and transformation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Don E. Detmer, MD, president and CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association, and Dave Goetz, Jr., commissioner for the department of finance and administration for the State of Tennessee.

Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, who is the chief medical officer and president of clinical services at HCA and was recently named chair of the Department of Health and Human Services Health Information Technology Standards Committee, moderated the panel.

The panel focused on three questions:

  • How to make the HIT investment in the stimulus package the most effective?
  • Are the goals realistic?
  • Will the increased regulation of the HITECH Act stifle innovation?

Brailer echoed a sentiment that I've heard repeatedly. Namely, that adopting HIT is not enough. The technology should be adopted in a manner that changes the fundamental delivery of healthcare by driving quality, efficiency, and transparency. He also expressed concern that Washington may not be able to move beyond financing IT to change the world of care delivery.

“We are pushing health IT instead of pulling it and I think that leads to inefficiencies," said Brailer.

The incentives will get the industry moving in the right direction, he said, but providers may have to wait longer to receive stimulus funding than many people realize. "The money will not be a tsumani but a trickle," he said.

Brailer also said he doesn't believe that having a regulated market will stifle innovation as long as the end objectives allow free play, innovation, and competition.

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