e-Health: The Problem

The Health Care industry in the US has major problems. Its cost have been rising at 11% rate or higher for the past 10 years, more than 4 times the rate of inflation.. Yet more than40% of US citizens have no health insurance. Major US companies such as GM and even IBM are having to backtrack on Health care promisies to their workers. In short, health care costs are putting US industries at a competitive disadvantage relative to other countries in increasingly competitive world markets. And finally the baby boomers are reaching retirement age and as they age they will bring even greater demands on the health care system.

Having forseen these problems, governments, health care organizations, and practitioner organizations like the AMA are looking towards technology to help provide a technical fix. The opportunity lies in the fact that health provision has been one of the least computerized and automated sectors in the economy. To be sure, computers are used extensively in hospitals and individual doctors offices and medical clinics. But most of that infrastucture is devoted to billings, insurance claims, and simple client interfaces.

Clearly, health providers will have to adapt to major changes in how health care information is stored and provided. This raises huge security, privacy and change management issues. It is the latter which may prove most mettlesome. Doctors, hospitals staffs, health clinics and patients clinics will have to change drastically regardless of what solution is adopted. Currently, paper records, printed charts, photo X-Rays wnd there way through health systems in very divergent and many times archaic ways. But the simplicity of paper records have prevailed because central servers, then desktops, then networked stations and now mobile devices have proved wanting in some critical fashion to the convenience and ubiquity of paper..

In short, for technically very savvy doctors , nurses and medical instrumental professionals – paper and its ilk have proved better and more worthy than Information at your Fingertips versions I, II, III, IV and likely XXX. These people are not stupid – they simply have found info portals and dashboards, data integration ease, and instant mobile access wanting in many medical settings. What this tell us about IT vending is that low levels of integration, relaxed interoperability, casual adherence to downright nefarious pollution of standards, and sometimes insolent support services – they wont work. In sum, not only is the health care industry going to have to change but also the IT industry.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005