Thursday, June 08, 2006

IT and Healthcare - Not There Yet

Dr. Glen Steele Jr., CEO of Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa, has received the 2006 CEO IT Achievement Award from the publication Modern Healthcare and the Healthcare Information and Management System Society.

Dr. Steele is a highly regarded healthcare executive and by all accounts has been an excellent CEO for Geisinger. He and Geisinger are to be congratulated for the achievements that led to this important recognition.

The award was featured in a special supplement to the June 5, 2006 issue of Modern Healthcare.

As I read through the material, I was reminded once again of how difficult it continues to be for healthcare institutions to make effective use of information technology.

That difficulty was illustrated by Frank Richards, the Chief Information Officer at Geisinger, who characterized Dr. Steele as “someone with a real vision of where IT could take healthcare.”

The notion that IT will take healthcare somewhere seems to be the prevailing perception within the health care establishment.

An alternative approach would be to develop a vision of where healthcare should go and how IT could help it get there.

There is a big difference. In following the first approach, healthcare institutions have spent vast sums of money implementing IT in the hope that something good would come of it.

Under the alternative, it would be possible to evaluate proposed investments in IT against the worth of the goal being pursued and, where the decision was to proceed, to later determine whether or not the goal had been achieved.

One hopes that some day the latter approach will be adopted. But it seems that we are not there yet.

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