In many ways, the United States is the global leader in health care. From the best-trained doctors to the most state-of-the art medical equipment to breakthrough treatments for deadly diseases, Americans expect and often receive the best care anywhere. Yet despite our many assets and strengths, there is significant room for improvement. Our $1.8 trillion medical system depends far too much on antiquated paper files and out-of-date customs to make it work. The digital tools that have radically improved productivity and quality across our economy have barely touched health care, and it shows.
While almost every sector of our economy is transforming itself through new IT-enabled processes (such as direct-to-consumer connectivity, real-time online access to critical information and aggregation and analysis of detailed data), our health care sector remains characterized by islands of advanced technologies in a sea of paper. As a result of this poor information management, our health care system too often fails our patients. Americans spend significantly more per capita on health care than the citizens of any other country, yet we do not receive commensurately greater quality of care across the board. Paper-based systems contribute to medical errors that drive up costs and harm patient safety.
We’re letting down our doctors too. By keeping vital patient information out of their hands, we limit their ability to make the best medical decisions. By failing to automate prescribing and delivery systems, we subvert their intentions and confuse their instructions. By failing to collect information on quality and outcomes, we decline to provide them with the best data they could have about the results of medications and treatments, information that would help them save lives.
It’s time for America’s unmatched technology and business creativity to focus on our citizens’ health and well-being. We have great doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and scientists. We are blessed with a national culture of pragmatism, compassion and innovation.
Policy makers and business leaders have the opportunity and obligation to address this issue head-on and transform the quality, efficiency and value of health care. The Technology CEO Council is focused on providing an approach to health care that reaches across government, business and the provider community to reward integration and coordination of care, not isolation, to speed the adoption of evidence-based clinical practices, not keep them in medical journals and to strengthen the doctor–patient relationship, not create adversaries.