I've mentioned before on this Blog that I'm a fan of Most-Wired Online and its guest editorials. Every so often, a Most-Wired edition comes across my desk that especially draws me in. This week's editorials by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island on Building a National Health IT Infrastructure and by Lois Taveras and Dadong Wan of Accenture on The Case for Pervasive Healthcare really hit a chord with me.
I suppose we all tend to gravitate to folks who think like us, but I couldn't help but ponder how relevant these editorials are to some of the really big issues we face in American healthcare.
Senator Whitehouse is advocating for a public-private partnership akin to the COMSAT legislation for satellite communications during the Kennedy administration. The partnership would drive interoperability, privacy and security rules, and EMR data standards for healthcare IT. As I've hop-scotched around the world and seen for myself, America is woefully behind in the adoption of IT in healthcare (and don't even get me started on even more basic infrastructure failings like roads, bridges, airports, etc.).
Taveras and Dadong write eloquently about the opportunity to transform healthcare delivery and services with pervasive technology that would help us better care for the elderly, treat people with chronic diseases, and frankly serve just about everyone else far more safely and efficiently than we do today. Their editorial is a two-parter and I suspect next week's edition will deal with the harsh reality that unless we change reimbursement mechanisms and perverse incentives in American healthcare, these very real solutions will never see the light of day.
Regular readers of my Blog will immediately understand why I embrace what these guys are saying. Whether it is my commentaries on the potential for Unified Communications in Healthcare, Remote Physiological Monitoring, the need for a Common User Interface, the value proposition for Commodity Software in Healthcare IT, Failing American Infrastructure, and more; there is a very common theme. And that theme is interwoven in everything Whitehouse, Taveras and Wan are writing about.
Wake up, America! If you think our foreign competitors don't see HUGE opportunities to beat us in healthcare because of our failings in IT and our screwed up system, think again. We are at a crossroads here. American healthcare as an industry is at risk of collapsing just like that freeway bridge in Minneapolis.
Bill Crounse, MD Worldwide Health Director Microsoft