Wall Street Journal Examines Information Technology’s Impact on Health Care
The Wall Street Journal's "E-Commerce" section today features four articles on information technology's impact on the health care industry. The following are brief summaries:
- "Health Care Goes Digital": Although doctors and hospitals have "lagged behind" other industries in adopting information technology, health care providers are beginning to "get wired" in response to proof that information technology improves patient outcomes. In addition, the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects the electronic transfer of medical data, is forcing hospitals to upgrade information systems. Safety concerns and fallout from Sept. 11 have also put information systems at the top of the industry's agenda (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 6/10).
- "Both Sides Now": The article reports on the growing trend of doctors taking on information technology roles within hospital systems. According to health care specialists, doctors are assuming chief information officer roles because they have the understanding of how to "fit doctors' needs" with the possibilities afforded by information technology. The Journal features Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer at Boston's CareGroup, who designed an Internet-based network that links all the medical information for the hospital system's six facilities (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 6/10).
- "Where the Money Is": With many health care systems in "dire financial straits," foundations have stepped in to provide "seed capital" for information technology projects. The Journal examines several foundations -- including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation -- that are able to provide funding for "crucial studies" on how systems may function in a health care setting, which in turn may draw investment from the private sector. The Journal reports that the foundations invest in technologies that improve care, modernize hospitals and reduce medical errors. Also, foundation-backed programs are typically focused on using technology to help the medically underserved (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 6/10).
- "Who Leads the Online Race": The American Hospital Association's "2002 Most Wired Survey," which ranks hospitals based on progress they have made in using information technology, will be published next month, but initial findings indicate that more hospitals are using Web-based applications to provide doctors with patient information. Also, the survey illustrates the difficulty the industry faces in getting "up to speed" on information technology, as few systems are compatible with one another and many hospitals are still determining what services they need from information technology (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 6/10).
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