Need to educate the public about health information technology? How about an animated cartoon? According to an article entitled When Health IT Meets Bugs Bunny in Information Week Healthcare, ONC is seeking bids from contractors to produce short animated films explaining the concepts in plain English. In the RFP, ONC noted:
"Although the widespread use of health IT by consumers has seemed a distant reality for many years, we have finally reached a level of activity and interest at which it is necessary to engage the public directly in a conversation about health IT and encourage people to use it to take a more active role in their own health and healthcare… The average person needs to know what changes are taking place on a national level, and what they will mean for him or her personally."
This would not be the federal government’s first foray into the world of animation – anyone remember “Duck and Cover”?
Despite the growth of social media and the popularity of online health resources (second only to pornography according to internet lore), the public is lagging behind the industry in understanding and adopting electronic health technology, due to a variety of legitimate concerns about security (i.e., the breach of Google Health’s database and the service’s subsequent shut-down) as well as the time-consuming nature of manual input. There have been some successful initiatives, such as the Department of Veterans’ Affairs MyhealtheVet web site with its Blue Button function that allows veterans to download their health data and share it with their families and physicians. A recent Markle Foundation survey cited by ONC indicates that a majority of both the public and physicians support the ability of patients to download their personal health information online and share information electronically with doctors.
It may take Bugs and Daffy, Mickey and Goofy, or SpongeBob and Squidward to explain the benefits of HIT to the average healthcare consumer. Let’s hope these efforts reduce confusion and encourage participation, and maybe get a laugh or two in the process.