Tuesday June 14 the Washington Post organized a health seminar on cracking the code: optimizing health care. Excellent panels discussed how to move healthcare forward and the pivotal role of information technology in 21-st century healthcare.
Optimizing health care
Below some take aways from the discussions:
- Improving healthcare is a must and requires bottom up -clinician driven- efforts as well as top down pressure from the government and large corporations. The latter are currently carrying the bulk of the healthcare costs through their insurance plans.
- Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Bill Cassidy (R-La) showcased that healthcare improvement is a bipartisan issue, and that there is a lot to gain from collaborating. Collaboration is essential at the political level and, as Kavita Patel and Robert Pearl argued at the physician level. Providing healthcare requires team work.
- Medical education needs to be on par with the requirements of 21st century healthcare. As Therese Wolpaw explained, that requires a novel approach to medical education. Yet, educating new physicians only for today’s healthcare challenges will not be sufficient. Also current practicing physicians need to get up to speed. Thomas Mason mentioned that HHS is rolling out a new initiative to improve the information technology capabilities of clinicians.
Use a health, cost and business perspective to optimize health care
Healthcare traditionally has mainly invested in disease related projects to improve care. From the discussion it became clear that healthcare has to accept that non-medical issues are currently impeding care the most. However, as long as funding is always tied to disease specific issues, these problems cannot be resolved. An example may help to clarify this point. Currently, healthcare organizations spent less than any other industry on their information technology infrastructure. From an healthcare providers perspective that makes sense, as IT does not contribute to better care. However, currently the lack of security in their IT systems is impeding care. And no wonder. Of the already minimum IT budget, only 6% goes to security. Other industries, who already spent more on IT, spent on average 12-15% of their IT budgets on security. Not surprisingly, the healthcare industry has recently become target of major breaches (over 120 reported since January 2016). These security breaches are having a significant negative impact on patient care. Time thus, to start to optimize healthcare using a health, costs and business perspective, instead of applying a disease perspective only.
Regulation or Innovation
Another insightful discussion came from the question ” Will healthcare change come through regulation or innovation?”.
Clearly it needs to be a combination of the two. Yet, while that is a necessary condition, just regulation and innovation are probably not going to be sufficient. To make change happen we need regulation, innovation and education.
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