Health care is so far behind in basics like user interfaces and data integration, that most of the money spent on electronic health records will have to be re-spent later when the technology actually catches up, according to a new report.
InformationWeek delivered this gem of news Friday, summarizing a new report by Crosstree Capital Partners, an investment banking firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions in the life sciences, pharmaceutical outsourcing, diagnostics. Health care IT is expected to become ripe for M&As, according to the report.
If you'd like to read the full report online, a pdf is available on the firm's site for free download.
The long and short of it is that electronic health records mostly rely on two means of data capture: Typing or image scanning. The report notes that there are much better ways to handle electronic data capture. Also, it notes that the current crop of EHR technology does a poor job of handling workflow.
But given the immediate pressures of government subsidies and the threat of reimbursement withholding:
... EHR will default into the core of integrated Healthcare Information Solution (HIS) infrastructures. Unfortunately, with most of the EHR systems on the market today falling way short in implementing state-of-the-art User Interface or data integration technologies, most of the money spent today will have to be re-spent as the technology catches up with the functional demands. Consequently, over the next 2-3 years radical improvements in User Interfaces (touch, natural language, proximity, etc.), and new wireless-enabled diagnostic and treatment devices will revolutionize EHR products in a painful and costly conversion process pretty much industry wide.
It's a catch-22 with the funding, really. As I pointed out last week, it's not like health care was investing in IT without the government subsidies, which are already attracting big tech vendors such as IBM, HP, Intuit, Microsoft and Oracle, to move into health care. Ironically, as these players come on board, the technology solutions will improve, making today's expenditures obsolete.
The report also predicts big things for wireless devices in health care, which should come as no surprise surprise to those of us who've watched their doctors fiddle with tiny Palm Pilots over the years. Health Plan News recently featured a short piece on unwiring health care that's worth checking out. It includes a look at how several hospitals around the world are using wireless technology.
I was also not surprised to read the report's prediction that health care would trade Blackberries for iPads and other more advanced wireless devices. After watching how my own doctors used technology-or don't - I've thought all along the iPad would be a natural fit for physicians.