Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is The Health Care Economy Downsizing?


First published here on the Health Care Blog

More than at any time in recent memory, powerful forces are buffeting the health care sector. We are in the midst of profound upheaval, driven by market and policy responses to the industry's long-term excesses. We can already see evidence that the dysfunction of our traditional health system is accelerating. It also seems clear that the center cannot hold indefinitely.
Dog Eat Dog
It is useful to remember that the health care industry's different stakeholders are adversaries. While they clearly share a common understanding that a wholesale meltdown is possible, there is little real motivation for collaboration and no unity. Independent of role, the industry as a whole has been focused on, and extremely effective at, securing dollars from purchasers: government, employers and individuals. But each silo within the industry has been separately focused on growing its own slice of the health care pie. In every niche, there are courteous conceits - access, appropriateness, efficiency and value - reserved for the good manners of public relations. But these are meaningful in practice only if they do not conflict with the professional's or the firm's economic performance.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Five Recommendations For An ONC Head Who Understands Health IT Innovation


First published on The Health Care Blog

Now that the legislative language of the HITECH Act -- the $20 billion health IT allocation within the economic stimulus package -- has been set, it's time to identify a National Coordinator (NC) for Health IT who can capably lead that office. As many now realize, the language of the Bill can be ambiguous, requiring wise regulatory interpretation and execution to ensure that the money is spent well and that desired outcomes are achieved. Among other tasks, the NC will influence appointments to the new Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy and Standards Committees, refine the Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology certification process, and oversee how information exchange grants and provider incentive payments will be handled.