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Friday, June 10, 2005

Medical Technology

The Washington Times: Editorials:

The answer to these questions, in large measure, is that the world's greatest doctors, armed with history's most powerful medical tools, operate within a system that is inefficient and disconnected. It's as if we're putting our best jet pilots in the cockpits of antiquated World War II fighters. This antiquated system disserves our patients and providers. At a time when industries around the globe are tapping the power of technology to transform how they do business, our health-care system is investing less in these technologies than every sector except construction, education and mining. You know this already. Every time you walk into a doctor's office and fill out the same paperwork with your same personal information it is a reminder that we can do better. Every time you have to wait for test results to be hand-carried from one department to another, it's a reminder that we can do better. And every time you cool your heels at a pharmacy while they place a call to a doctor's office because the pharmacist can't decipher the handwriting on a prescription, it's a reminder we can do better.
I agree that there is a lot that can be done in this area. A big stubling block though is privacy concerns. Any automation of medical records holds an inherent chance that some of these records will fail to be properly secured, and that worries a lot of people. While I understand that concern, the truth is that banking information, which was amoung the first industries to heavily leverage IT, is far more significant, and far more useful to most unscrupulous individuals.

3 Comments:

Blogger MacBoar said...

Dave, this is my field. I work at a national Lab processing almost 500,000 clinical specimens a day. I work with hospitals and physicians to develop interfaces to deliver results electronically. We are working to ensure access accorded by HIPAA, but it’ll always be a challenge. People want 100% insurance their records will be safe, but as you know if someone wants to hack a computer they’ll do it given enough time.

You'd be amazed how many people have access to your medical records. If your physician belongs to an IPA/HMO, then you’ve entered into an agreement, whether you like it or not, with a group (and all their employees!) that will have access to your medical records as well as all your billing (SSN) info.

I’ve been on national committees which have grand ideas of having RHIOs (Regional Health Information Organization) or even a National Database. So much is being depended on by using the Internet . . . which concerns me. Although we can ensure encryption of data being transferred, we can not ensure its security once the data is on someone’s Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or Practice Management System.

But you’d be amazed at what can be done these days. X-rays, Pathology and Genetic testing can be stored electronically as well as pharmacology orders placed over wireless networks. Since HIPAA was enacted a couple years ago, it’s been mandated that providers all have EMRs within the next decade. So I don’t agree with the article on how bad it is. Just be concerned on the security . . .

6/12/2005 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I agree with you that a lot is being done and progress is being made, in some places very dramatic progress.

There are areas where simple things are not being done, that could be done though.

For example, my bank knows that I visited my doctor and how much I paid almost immediately, but the pharmacist has not electronic connection to my doctor at all. This could be simplified I think.

I think people's fears of other's getting there medical records are a bit too high, slowing down this process more than it needs to. Yes, we should take care, but the level of concern over medical records, compared to other, argueably more important and useful records seems a bit out of whack to me...

It is a throny issue in some ways though.

6/13/2005 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Thought you would like this. a million dollars

10/01/2005 03:36:00 PM  

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