Yesterday we posted the first part of our conversation with Carol Diamond, M.D., M.P.H., the Managing Director of the Health Program at the Markle Foundation in New York. She spoke about the potential of health information technology to improve the quality and restrain the costs of our care, as well as the research benefits. Today, in the second and final installment, she discusses some of the barriers to bringing 21st century tools to a paper-based health system, and the path to overcome them.
Q: What are the challenges to a national health information technology system?
A: There can't be one information technology "system." We start with a vast, highly fragmented and very diverse health care delivery model that is not centrally controlled or run. The only practical way forward is to acknowledge existing networks, and let them grow incrementally under a basic, common sense set of policies and standards. That's how the Internet grew.
The health care sector has a set of unique challenges that need to be overcome—and some have nothing to do with technology.
The first critical challenge is trust. Without it, patients and physicians will not be willing to use new technologies due to fear of privacy breach or the misuse of personal health information.