Judith Faulkner, the founder and CEO of Epic, has become a favorite target for Tea Bagger and religious-right web sites. In these sites, she is usually referred to as a health czar. A Google search for the terms Faulkner, health, and czar yielded about 1,250,000 results. This is a large number of hits given the specificity of this search. I provide below only one recent example of such an article, copied from The End Times Are Here (see: Beloved Doctor Benched for Not Being Proficient with Electronic Medical Records System). Below is a quote from the article:
We have hospital administrators driving hard to implement Obama’s medical records solution, such as the one called EPIC Systems being pushed by his medical records czar, Judith Faulkner. In so doing, they are acing out excellent doctors whose only deficit is that they are not proficient with the new records technology. Are we really willing to stand by as Obama’s representatives bully those good doctors that criticize these electronic medical records systems? Are we willing to sacrifice good doctors for merely competent computer jockeys?
What did Judith Faulker do to deserve all of this attention originating outside of the healthcare community? My interpretation is that she stands astride a number of key political and organizational cross-currents, all of which are hot buttons for the Tea Baggers and religious right. Many of these hot buttons track back to her. They are the following:
- She is a documented donor to the Democratic party and, presumably, a supporter of President Obama (see: Judith Faulkner, EMR Interoperability, and Washington IT Politics).
- She has not been reluctant to dabble in Wisconsin politics (see: Epic Flexes Its Political Muscle in Wisconsin with Boycott).
- Here name is being mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor of Wisconsin in the recall election that the current governor Scott Walker is all but certain to face next spring (see: How the recall opens up politics)
- She sits on a key national healthcare IT committee, the Health Information Technology Policy Committee.
- Her company is the beneficiary of the federal funding for healthcare IT projects that is integral to healthcare reform and Obamacare.
- Electronic medical records (EMRs) have become symbolic for some people of governmental intervention into the lives of citizens.
- She is the founder and CEO of a technology-driven company that may make her a target for technophobes.
All of this may have little bearing on the future of healthcare or EMRs. Nevertheless, I am not sure of the long-range implications of this attention paid to an executive of an healthcare IT company. For the first time in my memory, however, healthcare IT is becoming intensely politicized on the national level along with healthcare in general. I have a nagging feeling that IT may become the "sharp end of the stick" in this fight and that some public opinion is being mobilized against the automation of health records. Think about the consequences of what we have already encountered regarding the politicization of public health vaccination programs.