Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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8/29/2009
06:37 PM
Allen Stern
Allen Stern
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Health Care Reform: Let's Fix The Technology First

It seems these days you can't put on the TV without every channel discussing health care reform in the U.S. The more I think about it, I believe we are doing it wrong. We should begin by fixing the technology then layering the new plans otherwise we will be in the same situation we are in now in just a few years.

It seems these days you can't put on the TV without every channel discussing health care reform in the U.S. The more I think about it, I believe we are doing it wrong. We should begin by fixing the technology then layering the new plans otherwise we will be in the same situation we are in now in just a few years.Back in late 2007 my mom was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. I wrote a post about what I saw while I sat with her in the room along with how the doctor's handled her after she was out. It was a complete mess. Not just a mess for my mother and me but also for the doctors, the hospital, the insurance company, the pharmacists, yep, everyone involved participated in the mess (even me).

Instead of jumping from the supposedly horrible healthcare system we have in place today to one that is supposedly significantly better, why don't we take 12-18 months and get the underlying technology fixed first?

Let's get rid of all paper, get tablet computers in the hands of doctors, and finally create a way for patients to hold their information just like a credit report.

It's easy to say that security and privacy will be an issue with a fully-integrated tech solution. But I am not sure that I agree it will be any worse than the way our credit is handled. In fact, I think it could be even stronger when it comes to privacy and security.

For example, let's say you visit a specialist and the doctor wants your "record" from your primary doctor. Great, now he or she can get it in a moment using the HCS (health care system). The specialist doctor is authenticated into the system - you then log into the system and provide the specialist with time-and-provider coded access to your record.

Now you head to the pharmacy to fill a script - the same procedure is used. There would never be another paper prescription handed to a patient - imagine the savings and the reduction in fraud.

Doctors would be paid quicker, insurance forms would be completed correctly the first time, and families would have the ability to view how their parents are doing from anywhere and at any time.

Everything in the new system would be based on the patient providing the access when it's needed, at the level it's needed and to the parties that need it.

Let's get startups like appointment planning service ZocDoc into the mix and other health-related startups like Skinnyr for weight tracking and Traineo for fitness tracking. Trusera and iMedix could provide a community for people to talk with others with the same issues and conditions as they have. OrganizedWisdom could provide a way to catalog all of the health care information. I am sure there are 100s of startups that could provide awesome technology for our new health-care system.

We need to get doctors back to working on fixing people not on the paperwork. Let's get the technology to take care of the paperwork.

By fixing the technology for health care first, we can then look at creating the right plans for the country. If we move into new plans now, we will just be putting new stones on a horribly crappy foundation and we will have to do the work again in the near future. Let's get it right the first time.

I'm sure there are a million reasons why this idea won't work - I'd like to hear them - so leave them in the comments.

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