Imagine a time when you can log onto Facebook, click on your Doctor's profile, schedule a appointment for the next few days, fill out a quick form with a list of what's ailing you, happy in the knowledge that your medical information will be electronically transferred to his medical and office software for quick diagnosis and easy billing.
Facebook's easy to use, consumer friendly medical insurance app would monitor the Doctor's invoice, the insurance company's payments for any errors, while anonymous data about your condition, diagnosis and treatment would be sent to the CDC so it could monitor for pandemic flu and other diseases.
All of this would happen with a few clicks of the mouse.
Science fiction right?
Electronic health records (EHR) have been talked about forever and a day it seems. I remember sitting through a compelling presentation at the AeA four years ago about EHR. Microsoft and Google have SaaS offerings already up. Everyone agrees that EHR will be consumer friendly, increase reporting, preserve privacy, save Doctors money- so why doesn't happen?
Probably because the whole healthcare industry is so fractured, non-functional and distorted by haphazard government regulation that something this, well simple, has to wait until everything else wrong with healthcare gets fixed first.
How messed up is it? Here are five healthcare experts talking on a NYTimes blog with five different takes on healthcare reform. They each have an axe to grind but none of them seems to have a holistic solution.
What do you think? Even given that the President is setting aside $600B for health care reform, will it work? Can it work?
Another reason, and its quite simple: There are very few people in the world that have the know how to implement something like what you are describing.
Navigating a Health IT infrastructure is hard enough, but when you have to weave together a fractured health system like the one in the US...you'd be hard pressed to A.) find someone capable enough not already employed, and B.) find enough money to get that person to leave their current job in order to try and put together a globe linking health solution.
Check out the incompetence of one group that just announced an iMedical Butler service just to see how hard it is for a group to get one patient from A to B electronically - http://blog.hanovera.com/2009/02/27/imedical-butler-these-guys-missed-the-boat/
Saw this on twitter, thanks.
Damjan, thanks for the comment! I think the health system is so fractured that, as a legacy system, it might be worthwile to ditch it entirely.
For example, would you sign up for POTS telephone service from AT&T, or would you sign up for an Internet based VOIP system from a smaller provider that's basically a SaaS service at 10% of the AT&T price?
EHR is basically secure data distribution. This is a solved problem in every other industry. The wheel doesn't need to be reinvented.
Might be worth thinking about HIPAA 2.0 to take away some of the regulatory hurtles?
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