This continues a series of vertically focused posts.
A couple of projects with health care industry clients in the last year have opened my eyes on how much technology is changing the information databases and process flows, and yet how much more needs to be done in a very paper and labor intense industry.
One of the biggest investments is going in to Electronic Health Records. As this Consulting Magazine article describes an implementation "at a large metropolitan hospital can last from
three to eight years and require a $100 million or more investment. And
the technology is only part of the project, which also includes
business process reengineering, sweeping change management
requirements, and ongoing training ... (because), healthcare remains acutely resistant to
change due to a unique business model (which can be generally described
as a highly regulated and highly competitive not-for-profit
environment) and unusual organizational structures (in which doctors
work primarily for themselves)."
As EHRs get populated, sharing them across the wide network of physicians and health care facilities is the next challenge. RHIOs are sprouting up everywhere in the US to address issues around standards, privacy, certifications as this article describes. In the UK, the Connecting for Health initiative has already been at it for a while now.
Much of the investment is going in to proprietary implementations - hence the focus from systems integrators (and the long article in Consulting Magazine) - Accenture, CSC, IBM, Perot among others have large healthcare practices.
And packaged software comes from industry specialists including Axolotl, Cerner, GE Healthcare, iSOFT, RxNT and others, not the mainstream SAPs and Oracles.
Of course, as I have written on my technology innovation blog New Florence, New Renaissance lots also going on in medical technology and patient care - swallowable and implanted sensors, patient monitoring , assisted care, robotics and telepresence
Pretty soon technology costs will beat out physician and other personnel costs, and malpractice insurance as major costs in health care. As employers struggle with health plan costs, most corporations are wary of all this "innovation" in health care.
Which is why I liked this perspective The Tipping Point for Healthcare from Joe Hogan, CEO of GE Healtcare.
He talks about 5 broad industry challenges
Focus on early health, not late disease
Turn information into insight
Measure healthspan, not lifespan
Increase transparency of quality and cost
Commit to equity in healthcare access