Health IT models in other industries

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A number of electronic data sharing systems from different industries were looked at as potential models for health IT initiatives during the 2005 Frontiers of Health Care Conference panel discussion titled Models for Healthcare Information Networks on Monday held at Brown University, in Providence, R.I.
   
Jeff Bauer, PhD, senior VP, ACS Healthcare Solutions offered an interesting overview of "digital transformation" approaches in other industries, including banking, retail, transportation, gaming (yes, casinos), and even the government.
   
Bauer emphasized that these industries have already streamlined their systems, and that the healthcare industry can learn from their mistakes. The problems have included lost profit due to production costs, imperfect consumer information, shortages of skilled labor, and other issues.

Other industries have developed excellent ways to collect consumer preferences such as magazine subscription and credit cared analytics. Lessons also can be extracted regarding provider efficiency from credit card networks and even ticket sales. And very common things like search engines can be excellent tools to gather consumer information, said Bauer.

Throughout the conference parallels were drawn between the military and related industries and the healthcare community's struggle to adopt EMR and other technologies.
   
There is a strong need for centralized leadership within an organization to get these projects done smoothly and effectively, said Major General Marilyn Ouangliotti, vice director, Defense Information Systems Agency who works on a project to secure the Military Health System. She added that "we established a joint command" which combined the Army, Navy and Air Force.
   
Ouangliotti also emphasized the need to have a clear understanding of project goals before beginning. An organization must know precisely what it wants, then experts must be brought in to evaluate the pros and cons, and also get feedback from those that will use the system. Building and buying flexible products is the best approach, said Ouangliotti.
   
Whatever model is chosen, there will inevitably be some losers in the healthcare industry as new, more efficient systems are implemented, said Laura Adams, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute.
   
"We [the healthcare community] are one of the few systems that can produce a faulty product" and then ask consumers to pay to fix it," said Adams. She added that because these flaws will be fixed, some in the industry will make less money because, for example, the procedural duplication that now exists will go away.
   
The Rhode Island Quality Institute is supporting a large number of projects that are aimed at increasing quality in the state's healthcare system, including a number of IT and EHR initiatives.