Thursday, September 9, 2010

Healthcare IT in the Future

What do I know about where Healthcare IT is headed over the next five years?

  1. There will be changes.
  2. Mistakes will be made along the way.
  3. People will learn new relationships with the technology and those relationships will not be static.
The first two statements are easily recognized aphorisms.  I could have been even more succinct and said **** will happen to cover them together.  What some others don't see though is the truth of the third statement.

We all know there will be more use of technology.  Thirty-something billion dollars in the US have assured that, as have similar expenditures elsewhere in the world.  We also have the experience of watching years of mistakes, some of them pretty big.  The technology has not yet been invented that some idiot cannot screw up somehow. 

But, it is not only idiots that mess up, even really bright people do not always get it right on the first try (or the second, or even the 22nd ).  That's a process we call learning, and when we head into uncharted territorries we will make mistakes, and we will learn from them, and then there will be new mistakes to be made.

“| An idiot repeats his mistakes. The smart man learns from his mistakes. But the genius learns from the mistakes of others.  -- Unknown
So, we will make mistakes, and we will learn from those mistakes.  I think I've said here before that there was a time when absolutely none of us would ever enter a credit card number into a web page.   Now we buy books, computers, cars and even houses using the web.  What can we learn from this, and by so doing prove our own genius?

Quite a bit.  The biggest thing to learn however, is that we will figure it out. The technology will become better, more acceptable, more secure and safer, the longer we experience it and adjust it.  I read a lot about concerns of privacy, or accability of communication over the web or via social media, or about whether doctors will accept patient sourced electronic communications.  What I know is that while these concerns are valid, and that they do point out problems that we haven't fully resolved yet, we will work through them.  Eventually, doctors will learn to deal with patient sourced data, and learn to communicate with patients with the same immediacy as we communicate with everyone else.  We just need to put the effort in to figure it all out.


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