OPINION: Health Care Industry Must Take Advantage of Internet’s Benefits
Despite a "huge increase in personal computer and Internet use, as well as the dramatic changes in other industries ... probably 90% of the business of health care remains paper-based," Joel Ackerman of the Rx2000 Institute writes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune's business forum. Noting that eHealth's potential extends far beyond the world of consumer health information and Web sites, Ackerman says the industry has failed to take advantage of the Net's huge capacity for instantaneous data and information exchange. All administrative services and documents, including scheduling, referrals, payment, practice management, purchasing, test results and medical records "are areas ideally suited for improved delivery through eHealth technology," he argues, adding that online medical advice and exams also offer numerous benefits. Additionally, "when combined with data analysis and pattern identification," clinical information and best-practice guidelines accessed electronically "with the click of a mouse" can give health care workers "expert suggestions." But, Ackerman notes, standardization of data exchange and other health processes will require "unprecedented collaboration and investment" on the part of the health care industry and the government, whose involvement is "appropriate and essential." He concludes, "If eHealth solutions are properly and effectively implemented, Americans can expect better care coupled with increased cost control. Delivering on this promise, however, requires information sharing, investment and public-private partnerships" (4/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.