Sunday, December 10, 2006

Health care in America | Bit by bit |

Health care in America | Bit by bit | "THE paperless hospital has long been a goal of health-care reformers. Plenty of studies have shown that America's bureaucratic approach to handling patient records inflates costs, wastes time and increases medical errors. A number of digital initiatives have even popped up in places like Indianapolis and Massachusetts, but these are tiny ripples in the ocean of medical data. A national, fully interoperable system of electronic medical records has remained a distant dream.

But that may be about to change. On December 6th Wal-Mart announced plans to launch Dossia, an online patient-information service, next year. The retail giant was joined by other big firms including Intel and BP's American division, representing some 2.5m employees, dependants and pensioners in total. Curiously, they are relying not on some Silicon Valley powerhouse but on the Omnimedix Institute, a non-profit firm based in Oregon, to build and run the new system.

Separately, Google has been making noises about entering this market, too. “Today it is much too difficult to get access to one's health records...our industry should help solve this problem,” wrote Adam Bosworth, who is developing Google's health-sector strategy, on his firm's blog last week. When Wal-Mart, Intel and Google start sniffing around a market, the time has probably come to take"

This is good news for all patients - and doctors, too !

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