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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On Visionary Leaders and Computers

Today I sent the following letter to Health Affairs, a prominent academic journal in the field of health care organization and policy, with a copy to the author.
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The title of the lead article in the September/October 2005 issue of Health Affairs by Hillestad and colleagues is put in the form of a question; i.e., “Can Electronic Medical Records Transform Health Care?”

The answer to that question is quite clearly no. A bunch of computer entries hasn’t the power to transform anything.

However, able and dedicated people, led by competent and knowledgeable visionaries, who undertake to transform care in well structured, tightly disciplined health care organizations, will find information technology to be a tool with vast potential.

What we need is not so much a quantification of the possibilities of information technology as a better understanding of (a) why our health care delivery system is frozen in the past, seemingly unable to imagine and implement new and better methods of delivering health care using 21st century capabilities, and (b) what might be done about it.
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We’ll see if anybody pays attention.

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