Simplicity. As complex as healthcare is, if we try to add the density of technology to it, perhaps it is counter-intuitive to think of ‘simplicity’ as a key operating principle of the NHIN construct. However, I believe this is the must have nuclear core for the successful initiation of the broad masses of both consumers and providers to the adoption of healthcare information technology. It is also key to their subsequent and sustainable utilization of these tools.
Everyone who has been listening to the widely broadcast cachet attributed to HIT has at least some appreciation for the extensive list of advantages we all envision for our future digitally-enabled healthcare provision. Seeing what tech has done for shopping, banking, communications, social networking, political campaigns, and general information sharing, it is virtually impossible to imagine that such benefits would not also transcribe well into the realm of healthcare. Indeed, it is the very complexity of healthcare that makes it seem such a likely candidate for technology enhancement.
Therein lies the rub: We know what technology can achieve, yet we are seemingly overwhelmed by its application to so complex an arena as healthcare. We want all the benefits which we know it can provide, yet we are stymied by the vastness of healthcare as well as the currently available information technology solutions, most of which have trouble working and playing together.
I propose we let the big players continue to duke it out over who shares what with whom and how they’re going to solve their big center issues. I mean, while they have helped to push HIT along the past quarter century or so, they’re also the ones who have enabled the ‘silo-ization’ with which we are now hamstrung. They have oodles of money and should be the ones to fix the dilemmas they’ve enabled.
In the mean time, for the rest of us (consumers, small providers, ancillary healthcare delivery providers,) let’s do simple. Already familiar tools. Real, immediate value. Attractive, intuitive user interfaces. Internet as the backbone, no silos. Easy-to-use cell and smart phone push-pull data collection and dissemination apps. Work with the individual end user in mind, both consumer and provider – together, not separate. Important pieces first, add complexities as mastery grows. Small sips to start; avoid the overwhelming drink-from-a fire-hose phenomenon.
As John Gaule said, “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.” Couldn’t agree more.
Keep it simple, stupid? No…Keep it stupid simple.
Dr. Gregg Alexander is a grunt-in-the-trenches pediatrician and geek. His personal manifesto home page…er..blog…yeh, that’s it, his blog – and he – can be reached through http://madisonpediatric.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.