I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m eager to jump back in with a vengeance.

Good article by Megan Mcardle on using technology to improve health care.  http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/10/paging-dr-luddite/8292/

She writes:

Eventually, such systems [that unite data from multiple silos] might transform not just diagnosis, but the whole medical system. If we could develop more-comprehensive medical records, and collect that data in some central location, data mining might detect patterns in disease and treatment that we now discover only through painful trial and error. More than that, it could finally allow us to reach the holy grail of health-care wonks: paying for wellness rather than for doctors’ visits and procedures.

She concludes, as many conclude, that resistance from multiple sectors – skepticism regarding an unproven technology, reluctance to modify existing practices, and fear of new costs –  collude to prevent the new technology from being deployed.  While those issues surely contribute, I think that it underestimates the challenge of designing interfaces that allow doctors to interact with patients and simultaneously record data.  The inability to use these systems as easily and seamlessly as a clipboard is the biggest barrier to the adoption of an electronic medical record.

Doctors are as eager – and as reticent – to adopt new technologies as other professions.  Lasik surgery, medical imaging, fiber-optic procedures rely on advanced technologies.  Poor interface design and an uncertain return on investment contribute as much as the lack of regulatory and financial incentives.