Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

As an American living abroad for ten years, I’ve been watching the commonalities between the U.S. and Europe around healthcare. Europeans have done a remarkable job in adopting technology within primary care, and the Americans have done an equally good job within acute care. There have been many lessons learned on both sides of the Atlantic — and we have more to learn as our continents converge to improve healthcare and reduce its cost.

Europe is leading the world in transforming how healthcare is delivered and paid for — and for providing equal access to all within each of the EU member States. As more consumers get older, access the Internet, and take control of their own healthcare requirements, the demand for quality healthcare will increase dramatically in Europe and elsewhere.

We’re at a pivotal point in our history where societal and market forces are creating a huge demand for governments to “throw” money at the problem, thus increasing healthcare GDP. But most countries — including the U.S. — cannot continue the dramatic expenditures that healthcare reform will require without fundamental changes to their programs. Many countries, such as Denmark, have learned this lesson, and have paired real reform with technology to make information readily available to doctors, other clinicians and patients.

IBM has been on the cutting edge working with governments (Denmark, Australia, China, Canada, Egypt and many others) and companies to improve care, predict and prevent disease, and make it easier for people to make smarter personal health and wellness decisions. IBM actually touches more parts of the global healthcare delivery ecosystem than any other company.

We remain eternal optimists; we’ve been a part of this change in many countries and organizations, and believe that both Europe and the U.S. will continue to make progress transforming healthcare. I recently attended the World Health Congress in Brussels, where my colleague Sean Hogan spoke about smarter healthcare:

Doug Cusick is IBM’s Industry Executive, Europe & Growth Markets for Healthcare & Life Sciences.  He lives in London, England and Seattle, Washington.

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June 12, 2009
12:57 pm

Yes, we are all taking ‘steps’ to improving healthcare as can be seen from major country reform and transformation projects and programs occurring around the world. Directing and having appropriate information and data available to those who require it to make informed decisions is vital. Unfortunately, so much of what we require to make informed decisions is ‘siloed’ and not available when it is needed. In theory, increasing quality ultimately reduces cost and there have been a number of studies that have proven this as such. Luckily, the goal of ARRA and similar stimulus investments around the world are targeting the sharing of data and creating the incentives, mechanisms, infrastructure etc to do so across the healthcare ecosystem. When data is not immediately shared, public safety and individual patients can be placed at risk for adversity. Technology is only a tool, but used wisely, appropriately and with planning and process and workflow improvement, it can lead to better healthcare outcomes.


Posted by: Doug Cusick
 
June 11, 2009
1:10 pm

The first comment “US Healthcare is the best” has gone unchallenged. I want to challenge it. If the system is so great why aren’t Americans healthier than the people of other nations? Of course there are many reasons, not least of which is the large number of people who don’t have access to it. What is very clear, even if Tim’s statement is correct, is that the US cannot afford what it now costs for the HC system. There is no indication that costs are going to go down, quite the reverse. In spite of statements to the contrary from leaders of the Executive & Legislative branches of our government. What can be done? I’d be among the first to say that I don’t have many answers. However, one thing is crystal clear – our HC system may perform medical miracles for a favored few, it performs suboptimally for the majority. We must recognize this as the first step towards improvement.


Posted by: Peter Haigh, FHIMSS
 
June 9, 2009
3:14 pm

This is about a minuscule issue but one that affects any record (paper or electronic) worth keeping.

It is about the ongoing proliferation of ad hoc date forms (eg. 1/4/09 or 07FEB08 or …). What steps are being taken to STANDARDIZE the way the date is documented? For reference, note (in Canada) CSA-Z234.4 and ISO 8601.

If this little matter cannot be addressed, what hope is there for the many other needs to ‘streamline’ Health Care records?


Posted by: Duncan Bath
 
June 8, 2009
3:42 pm

Hi guys,i believe we are allied for ever and we must fight togheter. West-Europe and USA are the same thing and no one can divide us.
No one is like us;this is a time of crisis for the West but we have a forces to born again.
C’mon guys,start our engines!!!


Posted by: Sergio
 
June 4, 2009
11:07 pm

I believe in a Smarter Planet


Posted by: Bilal Ahmed
 
June 4, 2009
7:30 am

Taking what Adam said about predicting patterns and analyzing data from all sources to make better preventative and treatment decisions a step further: one thing Dr. Atul Gawande makes clear in his recent essay in The New Yorker is that health care costs in the U.S. will only be brought under control WHEN the quality of the care improves, not DESPITE the quality improving. And that improvement has generally only happened when doctors coordinate care, share information and insights, and model their practices around the patient, rather than around either the doctor or the insurance company. That requires technology, especially of patient records, of the kind the Mayo Clinic and Geisinger Health System have implemented, but it also requires a new understanding of practicing medicine — which those leaders in health care “get,” as do a few others, but which most other medical communities are, unfortunately, moving more and more away from.

Good, but sobering, reading in this essay at: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande?printable=true


Posted by: Derek Baker
 
June 2, 2009
5:18 am

Doug, good point. I think this is about improving care, independent of the political system behind it. Sure, those things can impact one another, but the use of technology to improve the processes that often impede progress in delivering the best care for an individual is important. Not to mention the possibility of having the technology to predict patterns, analyze data from all sources to make better preventative and treatment decisions. Those are really the promise of smarter healthcare, I think. Well, among other things.


Posted by: Adam Christensen
 
June 1, 2009
8:43 pm

I certainly can appreciate your opinion and comments, but honestly, it is not about ‘socialism’ versus ‘capitalism,’ but about the adoption of technology and integrated systems that will assist clinicians and other healthcare providers in making sound and effective quality based decisions enabling better patient outcomes. I leave policy decions to the policy makers.


Posted by: Doug Cusick
 
June 1, 2009
2:03 pm

Whatever you say, never forget that the US has the best healthcare in the world, and socializing it will only destroy it like it has in Europe and other socialist nations. Europe needs to follow our lead, period.


Posted by: Tim Cronin
 
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