Why is healthcare IT so bad?

Even after $19B infusion, conversion to digital records looks like a disaster

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And no one's saying the healthcare industry has an easy nut to crack plugging paper-based, rigidly independently minded, often luddite-leaning doctors and large physician practices into a smoothly interoperable, secure network.

When one of the leading consulting companies helping the industry do that leads its success list with such lowered expectations and assumptions of obstruction and failure, it does nothing to make me feel more confident that healthcare is moving fast enough to hit its own deadlines.

That's not true of individual hospitals. Some are shining towers of tech. Some are moss-covered castles still rooted in the bronze age.

It's not just the castles that are the problem; it's a culture that allows luddites to overrule or seriously retard updates to process and technology that are well proven to make the process more efficient and improve patient care at the same time.

When the conversions and training to allow users to deal with them are rushed, however, as they are when a whole industry approaches a hard deadline, efficiency and patient care crash at the same time.

Two years isn't a lot of time for a big project. Those of us on the consumption side of the healthcare industry can only hope the parts of the industry that still need to work through their personnel issues to move to digital recordkeeping get the hell on with it.

 

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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