Joh Jordan writes:
There’s no question that North American medicine is approaching a crisis. According to the Washington Post, 45 million Americans carry no health insurance. Between 44,000 and 98,000 people are estimated to die every year from preventable medical errors such as drug interactions; the fact that the statistics are so vague testifies to the problem. The U.S. leads the world in health care spending per capita by a large margin ($4500 vs. $2500 for the runners-up: Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland), but the life expectancy ranks 27th, near that of Cuba, which is reported to spend about 1/25th as much per capita. Information technology has made industries such as package delivery, retail, and mutual funds more efficient: can health care benefit from similar gains?
The farther one looks into this issue, the more tangled the questions get. Let me assert at the outset that I believe electronic medical records are a good idea. But for reasons outlined below, IT by itself falls far short of meeting the challenge of rethinking health and health care. Any industry with the emotional freight, economic impact, and cultural significance of medicine can’t be analyzed closely in a few paragraphs, but perhaps these ideas might begin discussion in other venues.