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.
When 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
Working 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.