I sort of got stumped as to what category to put this thread into. It almost really does not fit into any specific category, but unless I can come up with a better home or someone suggests one, I will keep it here.
Back in 1980, I was working on joint project with IBM and the University of Alabama. The scope was to get medical records online and centralized. My role was just to install/configure the main frames and tie all the pieces together. Well, after about 4 years, that project ceased.
I still look at the downfall is that System Engineers and Programmers were trying to put together a system that the medical industry was going to use. Even at the University side, their IT staff was mostly involved with only little medical input. It just didnt FIT, the technical folks really did not understand what the medical field needed, and they just rammed some menus and procedures down their throats.
Fast forward to 2009+ They has been so much progress in terms of online and centralized medical records. I have been fortunate enough to see this from the medical side as well as the IT side. This time it will work, because the requirements are being generated by the people who will be using the system.
Its still a bit rough, needs some smoothing over, but it will work. The overall benefits to hospital costs are overwhelming. I was totally amazed at just how much could be saved by the way a menu was put together when a doctor would order some medications for a patient. Putting the less expensive medication at the top and putting the expensive medication at the bottom made the difference. Both drugs did the EXACT thing.
Thats just one small part on how this will save money. Then as the data base gets more populated within one hospital it will start to overflow into others so that data can be shared easily. Much of this is done today. Have a MRI in Hartford CT at 11:30 pm and then having a doctor in Paris, France read the image and provide details about the MRI within minutes.
This will work and it should. There are two pieces that need to be addressed (at least at this moment)
1 - Getting doctors, therapists, technicians comfortable with computers, keyboard and mice. Its amazing how many can only touch type with one finger.
2 - The patients view. Since I've been involved with computers for over 35 years, anything in this field is normal to me. But for many it is going to be difficult.
You go in and are seeing a doctor. Before, they would be looking at you, writing down what you said and generally maintain eye contact. Now, there will be many doctors that face sideways to the patient, listening, but then muddling through the keyboard to enter data. There will be this 'sense' of doctor-patient wall put up.
If you think about centralized medical databases, the potential is endless. Just think, lets say if you took a vacation to Italy and came down with appeared to be a heart problem. Within minutes, the doctors in Italy could retrieve all the data and diagnostic tests that that patient had in the States. Based on that, they could determine that instead of a heart problem, it was a
thoracic disc problem that the patient has had for a while.
Now, this example is lame to an extent. I just wanted to post it for what it could be worth.
I can not wait for more and more of this to expand. Remember, lower costs to hospitals at some point will result in changes in insurance which should translate into lower costs to the patient. Thats what we, the patient would love to see
And for the medical field, the ability to have access to medical records, tests, prescriptions, etc for almost any patient will save time, which can translate into helping more and potentially saving more lives.
I am not associated or affiliated with any hospital (well indirectly, since my wife works at a hospital), nor associated with any physician that is involved with some of these plans, nor any software company that is developing this.
I am just seeing something that I worked on almost 25 years ago, begin to come to life and that is exciting.
Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences