Another view on reform—from Oz

I just read another report on healthcare reform. It pointed out some things you probably already know:

  • Healthcare represents a huge and rapidly expanding portion of the economy, and spending continues to outpace inflation.
  • Healthcare is not as safe as it can and should be.
  • Many of the adverse events that result in injury or death are the result of systemic failure rather than human error.
  • Either way, many are entirely preventable.
  • Information technology likely will be a major force for healthcare transformation and improvement.
  • IT can help empower consumers to make better choices about their own care.

The report makes a key point by quoting former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who said in 2004: “The most remarkable feature of about 21st-century medicine is that we hold it together with 19th-century paperwork.” The thing is, most people reading it have never heard of Thompson, a four-term governor of Wisconsin and a longtime Amtrak board member, since the intended audience is Australian.

“It’s an American problem requiring an American solution,” is how one TV commercial on the cable news channels goes right now. OK, but don’t discount an idea just because it came from beyond our shores.

The report, “A Pebble in the Pond: A Vision for E-Health Enabled Healthcare Transformation,” written by Louise Schaper for Australian health IT research firm CHIK Services contains some interesting arguments that seem relevant to the U.S. market right now, including engagement of public and private stakeholders, capable leadership, defragmentation of information, and, yes, substantial financial investment.

And Schaper even has the wisdom to quote from a story I wrote from MedInfo 2007 in Brisbane, Australia.