Author Archives: Michael Painter

Electronic Health Records: Are We There Yet? What’s Taking So Long?

Jun 4, 2013, 4:48 PM, Posted by Michael Painter

A doctor seeking information on a computer, two nurses are in the background.

I am a family physician, but one who doesn’t currently practice and importantly, one who isn’t slogging day after day through health care transformation. I do not want to be presumptuous here because the doctors and other health professionals who are doing this hard work are the heroes. They are caring for patients while at the same time facing tremendous pressure to transform their life’s work.  That includes overwhelming pressure to adopt and use new information technology.

This level of change is hard, difficult and confusing—with both forward progress and slips backward. Nevertheless, doctors, take heart, because you are making progress. It may be slow at times, but it’s substantial—and it’s impressive. Thank you. 

The Annals of Internal Medicine today published a study (I was one of the authors) finding that more than 40 percent of U.S. physicians have adopted at least a basic electronic health record (EHR),  highlighting continued progress in the rate of national physician adoption of EHRs. The study, also found that a much smaller number, about 9.8 percent of physicians, are ready for meaningful use of this new technology. 

Some might say, “Wake up, folks!”   Look at those small meaningful use numbers.  Change course, now.  After all of this time and tax-payer expense, less than 10 percent of doctors are actually ready to use these important tools meaningfully. What’s up with that? 

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Good for Kaiser. Good for America.

Jun 4, 2013, 3:00 PM, Posted by Michael Painter

Mike Painter, senior program officer Mike Painter, senior program officer

Earlier this year, Fast Company released its list of the 50 most innovative companies and named Nike No. 1. In that article, Nike CEO Mark Parker noted, “One of my fears is being this big, slow, constipated, bureaucratic company that's happy with its success.... Companies fall apart when their model is so successful that it stifles thinking that challenges it.” Kaiser Permanente did not make the Fast Company list—this year.  But this nation-leading health care provider is working hard to ensure it’s not a big plugged-up company satisfied with its past success. KP works hard at innovating. KP's leaders and staff clearly do not take their past success and excellence for granted.

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A Learning Journey

May 7, 2013, 11:31 AM, Posted by Michael Painter

A teenage boy sits in his room, at a desk, working on a computer.

A sea change is happening in education. Millions are taking free online courses, some offered by elite universities. Lectures in crowded halls have moved online, with teachers and students using class time for discussion and problem-solving.

Unlike online courses and degree programs, the increasingly popular MOOC (massive open online course) is a relative newcomer to online education. The model beefs up regular classes while offering a free taste of college to anyone with a computer and Internet access.

Critics fear MOOCs may replace or cheapen brick-and-mortar education, and point to their high student drop-out rates. But many leading researchers consider MOOCs a worthy experiment.

Online educator Khan Academy is convinced of the value of online content. Like a MOOC, the material it creates is free and available to anyone, anywhere.

But that’s where the similarities end.

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Don’t Be a Jerk: To Manage Big Change, Help Preserve the Precious Past

Nov 16, 2012, 12:48 PM, Posted by Michael Painter

Mike Painter Mike Painter

I had the recent good fortune to attend an Institute of Medicine Roundtable workshop on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities called Leveraging Culture to Address Health Inequalities: Examples from Native Communities.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported the November 14, 2012 Seattle event.  The meeting was a gathering of American Indian, Alaska and Hawaiian Native health and health care leaders, all talking about health and culture.  They told stories of resilient, strong, vibrant, conquered yet not vanquished people.  Their tales were wondrous and sad—troubling, provocative, sometimes angry, often humorous.  

One might think the IOM was doing a good, almost charitable, thing by shining some precious attention on these people. How nice for experts to listen politely to those stories of past cultures struggling against waves of current change.  Well, it was a good thing—but not necessarily just for the natives.  There was immense, quiet wisdom and power there—for everybody. 

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