Thursday, December 11, 2008

Automating health care records would have a big economic payoff

I’ll speak from personal experience here, and not divulge anything too sensitive: but health care costs would reduce and effectiveness improve if all health care records were automated. In my own case, in 2004 I did not get medical clearance to work for the USPS as a carrier because my medical records from a hip fracture in Minnesota seven years earlier were not available.

HIPAA (the Health Care Portability and Accountability Act) prescribes strict rules on how data is transmitted and formatted. I once almost got a contract programming job (in 2002) dealing with this.

Medicine has a long way to go in recovering information about all of a patient’s care, from different medical centers and cities. It’s a big deal to transmit catscans digitally and store them and takes a whole new infrastructure. That’s another priority for the new Obama administration. The president-elect spoke about health care reform at a press conference this morning.

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