Health IT Panel: Use Technology Now to Help Transform Healthcare

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media , January 26, 2010

Consumers also need to be incentivized to use personal health records, which is not happening yet, says Greenspun.

Increasingly, the consumerization of healthcare will have a major impact on the healthcare system, says Tullman, adding that there are physicians who already have some of these services. "The future is here; it is just not evenly distributed," he says.

When asked what the healthcare industry should be looking for and doing now as it relates to health IT, Lazenby says that organizations should embrace change, but resist the temptation to try and solve all of the problems in healthcare. "Take practical steps—like more efficient process—and integrate that into workflow, so as technology evolves, you have the platform to build upon."

"This is an elephant of a problem to solve," says Tullman. "But this is a problem of leadership—not technology." Healthcare leaders need to come together and force vendors by saying they are not going to buy a system unless it can be connected. "Set standards in the community," he says. "Healthcare is fundamentally local and a cottage industry, so you solve it by small groups saying, 'We are going to get healthcare connected and flowing.'"

Start with the patient, says Ballmer. The only way to galvanize the docs—be they large or small practices—is to give them something that they want. For example, data about a certain population of patients that can help them improve quality of care and reduce costs. "It may not have the shortest payback or be the most rewarded, but will probably be the most transformative thing that you can do in the long run," he says.

Given the advances in technology, Ballmer emphasized that the time for change is now. "I'm optimistic," he says. "The money is coming. The national debate has been engaged. And now is the time where our industry may be able to step up with some enabling factors to make an even bigger difference."

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Carrie Vaughan is a senior editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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