What Obama means to me

In just a few hours the reign of King George comes to an end, and power returns once again to the hands of the governed. President-Elect Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, and we’ll hear the inauguration speech of the century. I am far from Washington both mentally and physically, but the coming of Barack Obama comes as many things tomany people, so it seems only fitting to talk about what this next, vital, charged president means to me.

1. More Patience Needed

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Obama is going to have to learn his new role within the system and that means I expect a failed initiative or three, and I also expect some wobbly moments as the new administration gains its feet. I like the guy, enough that I voted for him, but I don’t expect him to be a miracle worker. And so, I’m expecting that the current “hunker down, wait for the tides to turn” mentality to last until the spring thaw at the very least before my world gets moved at all, let alone rocked.

2. Electronic Medical Records (EMR)

This initiative is not new to Obama, it was introduced by former First Lady Clinton when Bill was in office. It’s taken a bit for these changes to make their way through the legal system governing medical practices, but the idea has finally attained traction. And just in time. A friend of mine is an entrepreneurial owner of an EMR solution, and I have been tapped by him already to assist with developing a web presence for his business as his life gets more busy meeting with investors and giving speaking engagements on EMR, now thanks to the fact that Obama’s adminitration has raised awareness of the initiative and impending changes.

This can seem small, but it’s the thin end of a huge wedge. The creation and conversion from pen & paper medical records to a fully digital solution opens up the need for more than just conversion… it opens the offices of medical practices everywhere to information management processes and data mining and analysis. EMR isn’t the simple act of scanning in old records, it involves providing digital systems, maintenance, training, and assistance in retraining existing staff to utilize new tools properly.

This leads to:

3. Universal Healthcare

Once the Medical Records are digital, reporting and data mining becomes more accurate and locally based nation wide. It becomes possible to create a national database for patients, to monitor patients’ rights issues, and more importantly, to develop a system for providing and monitoring Universal Healthcare. This one will take a bit longer because first we need to see the infrastructure developed more, and the EMR initiative is going to help accomplish that. The power of the pharmaceutical companies is entrenched, so the eventual success of this is still in serious doubt. However, I am hopeful that the new administration can achieve some tangible goals here. Some kind of base line plan where there is 100% healthcare coverage at public clinics and waiting lists organized by need-based triage for access to more advanced medical procedures. A baseline plan which allows for more gentrified health insurance for those who wish to pay for it, so there’s still “the best healthcare money can buy” around for the successful capitalists, augmenting what remains available to every citizen who draws breath.

4. More patience

The economy isn’t going to turn around overnight. However, adding transparency to the process is always good. Instead of creating new oversight structures, harness that internet to let the netizens of the world become your watchdogs. I’m not all that up on Washington right now, but I’ll bet there’s parts of the process of governing which are still retained behind closed doors and sealed records which don’t need to be. Barring issues of national security, transparency is the only way to do business these days, either as a public or a private business, wherever possible. to whichever degree is possible.

5. Company in enforced new endeavors

What Obama really means for me is that I won’t be the only person in the world struggling to adapt to new employment economics. Obama’s got his new job, and I’m still searching for mine. The graduate degree is helpful, but I’m in a strange kind of niche as an internet strategist and producer, a job title and duty set which is aimed for a well-developed internet career marketplace, which alas, the Northeast of the United States struggles to become. And in their struggles, for example, all of the Omnicom agencies in the region, TracyLocke, Colangelo, and Alcone, have just seen drastic reductions in their workforce, and all three have made movement -away- from interactive and back toward print. This is a move which seems inspired by fear and a lack of familiarity by senior management as to how to launch and maintain sucessful interactive-based business models.  Print will still exist, but interactive is the field which will grow.

Or, conversely, there are job openings looking for someone who can not only plan the website, but who will be producer and Creative AND developer all in one. I’m not opposed to those job skills being conflated, but it depresses me to see essentially the jobs of three or four different professions being demanded in a single role for less than $50K a year.

I’m really hoping that under the Obama administration, the NetCQ, or Internet Culture Quotient of the northeastern united states takes a turn for the better in a drastic way. If not, Silicon Valley looks like a distinct possibility just to stay employed. I don’t necessarily look to the government to provide that culture shift for corporations around here, I just want Obama to be stable enough to demonstrate that embracing changes to the older patterns of business really -are- worth the risk.

As for me, I’ll be watching this morning to hear The Speech of the New Millennium, the most important public address in my lifetime. And I’ll be staying in ‘hunkered down’ mode, making slow but steady progress as best I can, while I surf the job boards and plaster the interactive space with my resume. And steadily work on side projects like this EMR opportunity. There is work to be done. I just have to trust that the livelihood will follow. Or start looking for studio apartments near Silicon Valley.

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