Recently a friend at work sent an email to our workgroup in which he said:
Reinvestment Plan, Obama spelled out five main goals. He said his plan proposes to:
-double renewable energy production and make public buildings more energy efficient;
-rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and schools;
-computerize the health care system;
-modernize classrooms, labs and libraries;
-and provide tax breaks to American workers.
So the computerization of our Health Care system
becomes a National Priority.
The implication is that Obama's presidency bodes well for our workgroup, which is devoted to biomedical research informatics. I wanted to share his thought and my reply, which follows:
have much direct impact on research informatics units like ours, if
any at all. The effort to computerize healthcare was a key goal of the
Bush (W) administration, and while some progress has been made in
terms of determining evaluation criteria for EMR systems, from what I
have seen thus far, little or no interest has been exhibited with
respect to incorporating research informatics in the picture, in spite
of lobbying on several fronts.
The challenge of getting every American's health record computerized
is monumental, conceivably beyond the effort thus far put into space
exploration, and is fraught with contradictory economic and political
interests and motivations. This is not just an academic research
issue. Big Pharma has a stake in the integration of research
informatics into EMR systems (e.g. post-marketing surveillance), and
when Big Pharma's lobbyists can't get much traction, you know the
obstacles are formidable.
That said, another of Obama's campaign promises was to double the
budgets of the NIH and NSF. Let's cross our fingers and hope that
these promises are fulfilled as the massive economic stimulus and
recovery effort gets underway. If they increased the government's
research agenda by even a fraction of what he promised, it will
benefit us significantly. Biomedical research informatics in
inextricably tied to biomedical research itself; progress in research
will be impossible without significant investments in biomedical
Moreover, all types of translation are becoming increasingly dependent
on informatics. Moving basic science discoveries into clinical
innovations and thence into evidence-based medicine and improvements
in public health can be greatly accelerated by computer and
All in all there is reason for hope, barring total economic meltdown
and the end of civilization as we know it.
In retrospect, I continue to hope Obama keeps his promise about doubling the NIH and NSF budgets. However, we have thus far in the past few months spent trillions of dollars on bailing out Wall Street, and a few billions on bailing out the auto industry. I wonder how much money will remain once we embark on our New New Deal.