Office of the National Coordinator’s PlanningRoom.org Needs More Planning; Until then Move On

I’m a cynic and I’m snarky. They are character traits earned from my days as a reporter at the newspaper. Constantly being pitched the greatest new thing meant to change the world when rarely these things lived up to their promise made me this way.

It takes a lot to impress me.

This, of course, won’t do it.

By “this” I mean the PlanningRoom.org.

The latest offering from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the site is being billed as a place for public input to update the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan.

According to the site, the plan outlines goals and strategies for the nationwide shift to electronic health records and information exchange, and for creation and spread of new health information technologies. “On this site, you can learn about these issues and be part of the public discussion that will shape the new plan. Whether you’re a patient, consumer, provider, insurer or IT developer, you should have a voice in this process.”

The rest of the site focuses on a variety of topics in discussion board fashion (think late ‘90s comment-based webpage) where consumers, the general public and anyone else with an opinion of any kind can respond to the seeded ONC topic.

Some of the topics include:

The list goes on, with a few sparse comments to support the topics addressed, and some questions and responses.

The rest of the site features some meager announcements and a bit more info about PlanningRoom.org.

I’ve been a supporter of many of HealthIt.gov’s work and have featured it multiple times on this site for the availability of their information and the organization’s outreach to the public and the HIT community, but PlanningRoom.org is a limp attempt at a public information movement.

I’ve got to hand it to ONC for trying to engage the public in an information and educational campaign, but this effort wreaks of propaganda. For the most part, the comments are thin and generic and the “conversation” here seems someone staged.

This sure seems to resemble the acts of a start up site looking to generate page views and buzz. Certainly, there are people interacting with the site, but it comes off as fluff; a bit too polished if you will.

Call it the cynic in me, but at present, this effort just isn’t enough to make me think it’s going to drive any real change. Perhaps as it grows and evolves it will be worth a lot more, but in its current, state, not so much.