Scrubs is quite possibly the greatest TV show, NAY, entertainment program, in the history of the world! But any critical fan of this serious medical drama can appreciate the lengths that doctors and nurses go through to manipulate the system for the greater good. A common analogy I make when talking about the state of healthcare in most countries typically gets the picture across. Imagine you, the information worker, working for a company that doesn't give you access to an Internet search engine or electronic database. Welcome to modern world of US healthcare...30 years ago. It would be unfair to simply blame any one party, the hospitals, insurance companies, HMOs, pharmaceuticals, and finally, the government; they are all to blame. Fortunately for patients, fifteen years of healthcare reform failures have enlightened institutions to generate demand from people best suited to resolve this enigma--tech companies.
Up until recently, medicine has been dominated by investments in laboratory infrastructure ignoring a key organizational issue around information management, and rightly so. At initial glance, if I had to choose between an Argon Laser or a medical CRM solution, I'd choose the laser every time. [Insert girl's name] lasers save lives, damn it. Medical care in the last twenty years has cured some of the most complex diseases. There hasn't been this much impact since the advent of penicillin during the World War. But medical innovation has slowed down and is waiting for other scientific advances before it can address the new class of diseases. So then if medicine is about saving lives, maybe the best place to start now, would be to erase the countless deaths that occur due to incorrect patient data and history. It is too easy to simply complain and say that "it's the 21st century,"--developing healthcare infrastructure is complex and riddled with government and industry regulations. It is exactly this regulatory environment that has confused healthcare providers from taking revolutionary leaps.
Microsoft HealthVault is the first big step to solving this crisis. HealthVault will lower the burden around IT infrastructure and privacy because Microsoft has designed the system from the very beginning with privacy and security in mind. Hospitals, insurance companies, and patients will be able to work together to eliminate the hurdles of information sharing because the information will be stored in "the cloud" in a datacenter. I encourage anyone reading this who has a doctor to pass this post on to them. The only way healthcare will change is if you as the patient start to educate and evangelize for yourself.
See what the press is saying about HealthVault:
Are you a Developer? Save a life. Develop for HealthVault.
For once, this is not about protecting the platform. Here is my favorite excerpt,
"HealthVault automatically imports and exports between standards that are meaningful in the healthcare industry, such as WC3 eXtensible Markup Language (XML), HL7 Continuity of Care Document (CCD), ASTM Continuity of Care Record (CCR.), Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) and Common Connectivity Device. As well, the HealthVault API is accessible from any modern programming environment, including but not limited to Microsoft .NET, Win32, Java, PHP and more. It's important to note that Microsoft built a platform that can be adapted to work with any health data standard. In the future Microsoft anticipates being able to communicate with any widely-used health information protocol."
Okay Virginia, now go out there and save a life! *slaps your ass*