During the often heated debate over health care reform, one of the frequent refrains from opponents was that “America has the best health care in the world!”–a kind of patriotic view that the United States is the best at everything despite much evidence to the contrary. But the point is that we pride ourselves on having the most technologically advanced, highest quality health care. If it’s the latest and greatest, we want it here. And yet, it seems, health care is lagging far behind a number of other industries when it comes to integrating modern technology into things.
Sure, a new type of diagnostic equipment is modern technology, but what about some less sophisticated, but potentially more relevant applications of technology? Ronald Dixon, an internist at Mass General Hospital who directs their Virtual Practice Project, has this to say in a recent Health Affairs article:
“Industries such as banking, travel, and retail have used technology to transform their businesses during the past decade. Bank customers can go online to access and act on current information about their accounts at any time. Travelers can book airline reservations and print boarding passes in an instant. Customers can purchase and track items across the globe from thousands of online retailers. Health care is the only major industry resisting the adoption of the ubiquitous technologies we use today in other sectors of the economy.”
The question becomes: Why is health care holding out? Why don’t we demand more? How can we consider our current system to be the best when we can so readily envision something far superior? I don’t have all the answers for you–though Dr. Dixon offers some in his article–but I think that this is something to ponder.