Intel Chair Points to IT to Solve Healthcare Crises

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It’s up to healthcare IT industry to develop and implement solutions to the impending healthcare crisis, Intel Chairman Craig Barrett told the audience during a Feb. 16th keynote address at the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) in San Diego. According to Barrett, healthcare is not different from other industries and can and must use IT to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

Barrett, who was recently appointed to American Health Information Community (AHIC), outlined the scope of the problem, identified sources for solutions and explained the role of AHIC during the address.

Healthcare is the victim of a double 80-20 problem, Barrett said. Some 20 percent of the population—the aged and chronically ill—consume 80 percent of healthcare dollars, and 80 percent of transactions occur in small clinics and practices—not large, relatively well IT-invested enterprises. Solutions must address both 80-20 problems.

Without real solutions, the future is grim, warned Barrett. Aging baby boomers will compound and exacerbate the problem. The U.S. must check rising healthcare costs, or its ability to compete in the global market will be threatened, Barrett said. Neither raising taxes nor rationing care offers a viable solution. “Technology is the only solution,” affirmed Barrett.   

At the same time, technology is not a solo solution. Solving the problem requires a coordinated deployment among the public and private sector.

AHIC will help by facilitating communication and raising public policy issues. The group has formed four work groups: consumer empowerment, electronic health record, chronic care and bio-surveillance. Each group will help set the environment for a solution rather than solve problems

Other key players in the solution are large employers and the IT industry. Large employers can accelerate solutions by educating employees and using their purchasing power to use suppliers aligned with the vision of IT-driven healthcare. The IT industry can lead the transition with meaningful interoperability.

While the challenge is significant, there is hope. Other industries have transformed themselves through technology to become the efficient and safe operations. Now it’s up to healthcare to follow in their footsteps.