Economics of health care IT

Last week's column on the dysfunctionality of health care IT drew comment from some folks who deal professionally with the issue. John Rodat, who is president of Signalhealth and who blogs at healthsignals new york, reminded me that while we all complain, "we've still got to develop the market." And while I focused somewhat myopically on issues of software architecture, Rodat gets down to the brass tacks of economic reality:

The next time you receive a medical service, ask yourself whether you would pay an extra buck or two or more if you knew that: Or consider what you would pay as an add-on to your (admittedly already too high) health insurance premium. Me? How about a couple hundred bucks a year? [healthsignals new york]
Great questions. If you add to this list of benefits the longitudinal tracking and consistent follow-up that the current system fails rather spectacularly to deliver, I'd grudgingly answer yes. I'd pay more for these competencies. Of course while that's true for me now as a salaried employee with health care benefits, it would have been a tougher call a couple of years ago when I was self-employed. For the chronically uninsured, it would be a cruel joke -- though conceivably the insured could help subsidize the bootstrapping of systems that would benefit everyone.

What's notable here, beyond the particular issue at hand, is the growing strength of the blog network in the fields of medicine and health care. I mentioned medbloggers a few months ago. That a blog such as Rodat's exists, and that his and mine can easily and naturally become aware of one another, is the sort of daily miracle that I still can't bring myself to take for granted. As an IT-oriented guy wholly focused on health care, he's one of the folks who can be my eyes and ears in that space. And I don't have to look far for others -- they appear on his blogroll.

It's wonderful to see individual disciplines -- law, medicine, IT -- using the blog medium to achieve greater transparency. Even more exciting is the way in which that transparency, coupled with near-frictionless flow of information, will encourage the kinds of cross-disciplinary collaboration that will give us traction with the really hard problems.

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