Monday, February 11, 2008

Open Response To Leavitt's Call for Health "Travelocity"

The Gnome Will See You Now

The Memphis Business Journal has a piece on Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt expressing his desire for a "Travelocity for health care"

I've seen Secretary Leavitt speak on more than one occasion, I dig the guy, and I like his attitude and I'm one of the people itching to build what he wants. The following are my thoughts on why I haven't done it yet.

Give Me The Data!

The main problem is simply that medical data is tied up in Doctor Smith's funky handwriting.

Health care currently consumes 16 out of every 100 dollars in the USA, but electronic health records are next to non-existent. The few that are in existence don't talk to any of the others.

If we ran banking like that we'd be... oh wait a minute, we did run banking like that. About a million years ago. Well, thirty anyway.

16% of the US economy runs on scrawly, handwritten notes.

Point is, we have these futuristic machines now, we call them ComPewters, and they can add, subtract, and do all kinds of whizzy things, like store my entire medical record, manage a million people's access to it, provide an audit trail and allow doctors anywhere in the world to know if I'm allergic to peanuts. (I'm not, by the way. I like peanuts. The honey-roasted kind are my favourite. Hint.)

16% of the US economy runs on scrawly, handwritten notes.

If I was the government, I would say "excuse me, stop that!" except I wouldn't be so polite.

I would say something like "hey newly minted doctor! Welcome to the world of health care, and the associated billing joy that is your income. If you would like to bill us, the government, representing roughly 40% of your revenue, please use any of the following software (insert CCHIT list) or, if you prefer, here is some absolutely free of charge software (openEHR springs to mind, or MirrorMed, or OpenEMR or FreeMed ) from the world of free and open source software that you will use if you want us to pay you. Oh, and feel free to use it for all your other billing and patients too, not just ours."

Being Medicare, I would instantly recognise that having these docs interact with and bill me using EHR data will help me contain costs and monitor (if not improve) quality on a massive scale, therefore I would pay for training the docs and their staff to use an EHR-based office system.

Later I would find a way to extort something or other from the other insurance companies for doing them such a big fat favour. Then I would sit back and revel at getting my country up to speed with the rest of the developed nations and making sure we all have an electronic health record.

Until this happens, we cannot build Healthpediaocitywiki.

Mr. Leavitt, tear down those (data) walls! Seriously, you can't mandate this stuff?


Anonymous said...

tmi :)


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My employer is compensated through funding to provide analytical research, technology solutions, and Web-based public and private health care performance reports by the State of New York, the State of Illinois, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Commonwealth Fund and Bridges to Excellence. I am not being compensated by any of these organisations to create articles for or make edits to this Web site or any other medium; and all posts authored by me are as an individual and do not represent my employer or the agencies I work for.