Friday, February 09, 2007

Unintended Consequences

Periodically, the big corporations make noises like they intend to do something about the high cost of health care (and, consequently, of the health care benefits they pay for) The latest flurry of interest was reported in the cover article of the January 2007 issue of H&HN (Hospitals and Health Networks), the journal of the American Hospital Association.

One area in which the companies want to be active is in the promotion of greater use of information technology (i.e., computers) in health care. They seem to think that hospitals should learn to use computers to improve efficiency like other forms of enterprise have done.

They are most likely correct about that, but if experience is any guide, all of their pushing is likely to have consequences different from those intended. If they make a big enough fuss, hospitals will expand their use of computers sure enough, but they will do so more to quiet their critics than to improve efficiency. They will continue to do things more or less in the same way they always have, adding expensive hardware and software to the mix, with the result that cost will increase even faster.

There may be ways to get the health care system to be more efficient, but urging them to spend money on computers is probably not one of them.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

FREE counter and Web statistics from sitetracker.com