What would my headline read?

I just returned from a really outstanding 2 day session hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on informing policy (as opposed to lobbying, which was not a focus of the session). I definitely went with PCHIT on my brain.

One of the thought exercises the facilitators asked us to engage in was, “What would your headline read?” That part was relatively easy for me. It was “Every patient in every health system now has access to their health information and health care team online.” This is a headline, which means it’s narrowly scoped. My professional purpose is a broader than that, as are those of this blog’s readers, of course (See a post on my own blog about this).

The part after that which was interesting was that I began gently shopping my headline around to the other health care leaders at the event with me. It was a little nemawashi, if you will. The responses were varied. Some felt that certain populations didn’t have enough computer access to warrant this investment. Some were very interested in the idea, but hadn’t conceptualized how it would improve care. Very few were already doing this in their practices. Others were excited by it right off the bat and didn’t even know that some organizations were already doing it.

We of course now have good information that many populations believed to be computer inaccessible are, and there were key issues that helped in understanding, like the need for accurate medication reconciliation, involving families in care, supporting a great inpatient care experience.

Besides learning what I learned about messaging and understanding policy, I also ended up conducting several mini-focus groups around the event about this issue. Initially, I felt that I was a bit ahead my time in this population of physician, nurse, and allied health leaders. After having more conversations, though, the message became more understandable to the people I spoke with. Everyone is interested in a high quality, affordable care system. The one thing I picked up with this group as well was that the work showed interest in supporting a health system that shows respect for patients, their families, and their communities. I think that is a great theme for this work, as well.

What would your headline read? Post it below!


The problem is Ted not that your headline is too narrow, (it is but that's OK). The problem is that RWJs headline should be "no American is prevented by money or suffers financially from accessing needed care".

REJ's problem is PRECISELY that it is "informing policy (as opposed to lobbying,". No one in Congress or Administrations of any stripe gives a cuss about that, they care about lobbying dollars spent. With minimal resources comparatively corporations and right-wing lobbies have displaced RWJ in influencing the health care debate where it actually matters–in laws passed and policies enacted.

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for your comment. I think patient access is a great way to frame things like PHRs to leaders supporting HIT.

I would ask you then, what would your headline read?

Thanks for following along,


On the topic of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, I found the following article that is informative on the points you raised, Matthew.

I don't represent or work for RWJF. I can say though, that a lot of the innovation that I have catalyzed in my career so far has been impacted by RWJF support for my training and several other of their funded programs. That's been my experience.

See "In Pursuit of Social Change: A Conversation With Risa Lavizzo-Mourey"

There is certainly a conversation to be had about the role of policy makers along with the other actors in health information technology in supporting patient access. As we begin posting our personas work, I welcome your ideas on that.

Ted–all that work (from RWJ) is totally valuable HOWEVER my headline is the easy part that every other country has figured out — “no American is either prevented by lack of money or suffers financially from accessing needed care”.

All the other stuff (IT, evidenced based care, innovations in care delivery, etc etc etc)is an ongoing process that everyone needs to make better. Too many people in the US worry about the latter stuff without fixing the first piece–which is EASY to fix. The reason it hasnt been fixed is because of the lack of political influence from the parties that want to fix it (the working poor). Their "representatives" are RWJ and the like, but they havent chosen to go after the problem politically.

The enemies of fair universal coverage which would create my headline–who are basically the same people as HRCs vast right wing consipiracy–have been incredibly effective in spending much much less money but directly influencing the policies of Republican and moderate Democratic pols. Every op ed from Manhattan, AEI or Cato (and there are lots) is a drip drip drip effect on the conversation.

I think RWJ should take most of its money and go that direction. I realize they dont agree, and so they continue to fund the same studies on how to make insurance affordable for three pygmies living in Alaska that takes 5 years and then gets published in a journal no one reads — instead of funding a lobbying machine to pay off Congress to get the right thing done.


Helpful. Knowing everyone's headline makes for better collaboration.

I can see the perspective that some people are backing in to this headline. Others have gone into integrated systems where the problems do not exist (as much, we still have to interact with the fragmented care world). For me, this initiative was all about leaving the integrated system temporarily to understand the problems better.

On the issue of the rest of the world – I have been surprised in conversations with medical leaders and the literature from single payer systems that there are still hurdles to patient-centered care provision. See:

Cathy Schoen et al., “Primary Care And Health System Performance: Adults' Experiences In Five Countries,” Health Aff (October 28, 2004): hlthaff.w4.487

I think there's the financing system headline, and there's the medical profession headline. There are lots of headlines to write, right?

Great discussion and we are open to more headlines!


Ted Eytan, MD