Who would oppose modernizing the healthcare system with standardized electronic medical records and an underlying, hopefully secure infrastructure that maintains a person’s medical history throughout their lives? Not having to fill out that questionnaire every time you visit a new doctor, specialist or hospital would be a time saver.
Imagine applying corporate IT methodologies like business intelligence to gauge the effectiveness and appropriateness of treatments, head off outbreaks or perhaps even speed medical research. Like every other aspect of life touched by the microprocessor, the possibilities are endless.
Ecologically, think of the metric tonnage of paper per day that would be spared.
Unfortunately, Andy Kessler of MIT’s Technology Review finds that the “sickness industry” has a reason to maintain the status quo: immense profitability.
The amount of unnecessary spending is huge. In a project that analyzed 4,000 hospitals, the Dartmouth College Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice estimated that eliminating 30 percent of Medicare spending would not change either access to health care or the quality of the care itself. The Congressional Budget Office then suggested that $700 billion of the approximately $2.3 trillion spent on health care in 2008 was wasted on treatments that did not improve health outcomes. This excessive spending has kept the entire health-care industry growing faster than the population, and faster than inflation, for decades.
Why would I not be shocked if the size of medical research datacenters couldn’t hold a candle to those of medical billing and administrative companies?