The Slow, Painful Crawl Toward E-Health - InformationWeek

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10/12/2007
06:58 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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The Slow, Painful Crawl Toward E-Health

The Commonwealth Fund's recent survey of health care opinion leaders released in July 2007 showed that 67% of health care opinion leaders thought the acceleration of health IT would be very effective or effective in improving quality and safety in health care. Yes, the U.S. health care system, where we spend more than $2 trillion, has problems that reach far beyond its IT. And as the above survey shows, not everyone thinks IT will be all that helpful -- a third in this

Remember when Dr. Evil demands 1 MILLION DOLLARS, or he'll blow up the world in the third Austin Powers film? Everyone snickers, and his henchmen have to tell him a million ain't much anymore. Well, the U.S. government is spending 22 MILLION DOLLARS on grants to get e-health programs rolling.InformationWeek's e-health reporter, Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, reports :

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded nine contracts worth $22.5 million to a range of local and state health data exchanges. Together, the exchanges will create the National Health Information Network Collaborative, which will test and demonstrate how private and secure patient data can be electronically shared among health-care providers, patients, and other stakeholders across communities.

Also this week, McGee writes about an e-Health Initiative Blueprint, aimed at building consensus -- and acknowledging where the disagreement remains -- on how to move forward. An excerpt:

The Commonwealth Fund's recent survey of health care opinion leaders released in July 2007 showed that 67% of health care opinion leaders thought the acceleration of health IT would be very effective or effective in improving quality and safety in health care.

Yes, the U.S. health care system, where we spend more than $2 trillion, has problems that reach far beyond its IT. And as the above survey shows, not everyone thinks IT will be all that helpful -- a third in this survey don't see accelerating its use as being effective.

But count me as a believer that it will, and that the pace of change is unbearably slow, despite the efforts of many incredible people in the profession.

The acceleration of health-care IT continually crashes against people who don't feel a sense of urgency. We've urged CIOs to get involved in this issue and find ways to help their companies cut costs. That can be risky, since the complexities of the health care system can ensnare even the smartest IT shops, as Intel and Wal-mart have learned. But it's a risk worth taking, given the upside. And our federal government, which pays for a fair amount of health care itself, could take far more such risks to propel these efforts forward.

The Commonwealth Fund's recent survey of health care opinion leaders released in July 2007 showed that 67% of health care opinion leaders thought the acceleration of health IT would be very effective or effective in improving quality and safety in health care.

Yes, the U.S. health care system, where we spend more than $2 trillion, has problems that reach far beyond its IT. And as the above survey shows, not everyone thinks IT will be all that helpful -- a third in this survey don't see accelerating its use as being effective.

But count me as a believer that it will, and that the pace of change is unbearably slow, despite the efforts of many incredible people in the profession.

The acceleration of health-care IT continually crashes against people who don't feel a sense of urgency. We've urged CIOs to get involved in this issue and find ways to help their companies cut costs. That can be risky, since the complexities of the health care system can ensnare even the smartest IT shops, as Intel and Wal-mart have learned. But it's a risk worth taking, given the upside. And our federal government, which pays for a fair amount of health care itself, could take far more such risks to propel these efforts forward.

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