Technology, not politicians, will rescue healthcare

Watching the political theater in the US Capitol one has to wonder if there may not be a legislative solution for the American healthcare system. It seems as a country or government that we’re unable to agree on the approach or even on the scale of the problem. But there has to be something more than the opinions we’re hearing from each side. To get to the truth takes an investment of time in learning the issues from the people who are fighting healthcare’s battles every day.

Fragmented HealthcareWhen you invest that time, a pattern begins to emerge that is remarkably consistent. The first is that the quality of healthcare varies enormously (as much as two-fold, in fact) from place to place. In a great article in the Harvard Business Review, Mayo Clinic’s CEO John Noseworthy points this out:

America is a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs. We are a nation that cares for our fellow citizens, yet we have failed to create a health care system that fully meets the needs of people in this country. Health care is fragmented, and the quality of care varies widely, which leads to unsustainable health care spending.

Fragmentation is a terrible problem, highly associated with poverty and race, but there are also ways to address this issue, improve the quality of healthcare overall while reducing spend. The second pattern that emerges is that technology is grossly underused in healthcare. Technology stands to rescue it now, probably more quickly than legislation.

Technology to the rescue

Close-up of stethoscope on laptop keyboardWorking with Siemens Healthcare in advance of this week’s TUCON Conference in Las Vegas, I had the chance to interview their CEO, John Glaser, at their headquarters near Philadelphia. He described the need for technology to bring healthcare up to the levels of other industries, where efficiency has been steadily rising for decades. For a myriad of reasons, healthcare has been passed over for standardized work, analytics-driven processes, and a host of other advances that are yesterday’s stories in the commercial world. It’s hard to believe we’re just now digitizing healthcare records.

The Siemens CTO, Tommy Richardson, will speak at this week’s event and will cover the topic of advancing technology in healthcare on many fronts, including evidence-based medicine as process. It will be a great chance to hear from the people delivering the technology at the front lines. I’ll be sure to cover what he has to say.


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Categories: Healthcare, Process Management

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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3 Comments on “Technology, not politicians, will rescue healthcare”

  1. October 14, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    My observation has always been that hospitals, clinics, etc. wouldn’t spend the money on technology that will streamline the work. They need to spend money on the latest equipment like CAT scans, MRI machines, etc. so there is nothing left for so called ‘overhead’ stuff like software. I do think that is changing.

  2. October 21, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    IT is not a revenue generating department so it sometimes gets neglected and the dollars goes toward the money makers such as surgical robots and the highest slice CT. Hospitals that do not have this fear their competitor across the street will use this in their advertisements to the patient and referring community. Large IT spends on new technology is usually driven by regulations and compliance requirements. I agree that the budgeting and planning needs to be more strategic but with limited dollars, they need to see the value first.

    • October 24, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Astute comments, John. I think you’re right on.

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