Saturday, August 29, 2009

On Technology and Healthcare Reform

Healthcare gets cheaper when healthcare gets more efficient. And people get healthy when healthcare is efficient. One of the ways toward efficiency is technology. And since it's all about the handoffs between providers, the technology is about health information exchange.

For exchange to work best, you need standards and a critical mass of adopters. These are "helped" along by government. One asks, "Why the government?" Well, even the most libertarian of those who don't want the government to tread on them use our freeway systems and complain about toll roads. We've all learned to consider driving a "right." We just haven't reached the same conclusion on healthcare. If we did, we'd demand government sponsored information exchange and bristle at privately controlled healthcare delivery for the privleged. We got our roads, and our innovation built the rest.

Therefore, if the government provides a way to exercise a right, we don't even notice the government is involved. For driving, they just connect all the locations and leave it to us to navigate.

Airwave regulations are similar. And so are the standards we're trying to adopt in healthcare information technology. You can extend the logic to payment systems but we'll keep this to technology right now. With healthcare reform, we can reach the necessary tipping point to make the technology component empower the delivery system.

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