Former US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist delivered a keynote at the HiMSS conference talking about the mess in US health care. Republicans are focused on costs and looming Medicare funds crisis, Democrats on individual coverage challenges.
Walking through the huge exposition hall here with almost a thousand technology vendors you see more signs of our inconsistent health care. Rocket science in some areas, laggard in others.
You walk through the GE Healthcare booth and you see all kinds of next-gen diagnostic imaging. You see Cisco's vision for tele-medicine. You see what electronic medical records (EMR) should be like when you go to the Cerner booth. You see Motion's mobile clinical assistant which can scan bar codes and RFID tags on patients and nurses and prescriptions and communicate via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to minimize errors.You see Vocera's mobile and voice recognition capabilities to allow for more effective communications in high-intensity medical workplaces.
The you step back and see so many choices in each category. For every GE there is Siemens and Philips. For every Cerner you have an Epic and a McKesson. And as someone in the industry said - -and don't forget that "Patel EMR" custom developed and used by maybe 5 facilities. One healthcare CIO told me he had over 2,000 software licenses. You see that EMR adoption is mostly at stage 2 or 3 of a seven stage model developed by HiMSSAnalytics. You see the babel of tower that a new breed of Health Information Exchanges are trying to rationalize. But doing so at local levels and causing their own consistency issues. You notice excitement about ERP solutions - something the manufacturing sector implemented a decade or two ago. You see basic business analytics.
Forget the political gridlock around health care. We also have technology gridlock.
It struck me that 4 years after President Bush announced his "moonshot" that by 2014 every American should have an electronic personal health record (PHR) to mirror or consolidate what their providers EMRs show, today less than 5 million do. As Google steps in to help, may be it should be Facebook which jumps in. People seem far more willing to share their deep dark secrets with them than they do their health details with employers and insurance companies.
Opportunity or mess?