Friday, November 25, 2011

Is Healthcare’s Fear of Change Justified?

Information technology, particularly in the fields of social media and mobile communication, is a notoriously slow-moving concept in the health industry. Complex compliance issues, data security, and expense have largely kept health workers on the outskirts of today’s technology boom. Now, some analysts are asking if the industry has fallen too far behind.

“I doubt that anybody within airlines, financial services, or manufacturing goes to meetings to debate whether information technology can improve what they do. It already has,” says BMJ’s Richard Smith. “But in healthcare we’ve grown very [skeptical] about information technology.” Smith believes that bad experiences with innovation in the past have helped foster an environment of stagnation, citing examples such as Britain’s 2005 initiative: Connecting for Health. The program, costing NHS billions of dollars, achieved almost nothing over the following years.

Leaders in healthcare are reluctant to invest in information systems that may not deliver a financial return or may take years to do so. We remembered how five years ago the leaders of Connecting for Health were being invited to tour the world talking about the remarkable things they were doing. Now those who have survived the wreckage are invited to talk on how not to do it.

This isn’t a problem limited to Britain, either.

In our own past blogs, we’ve looked at HIPAA’s reluctance to allow faster, more efficient mobile technology instead of outdated pagers. We also described July’s sharp increase of HITECH violations, caused by HIPAA’s refusal to update archaic requirements for electronic records. It should be obvious that compliance and security are top concerns for the health industry, but many experts believe that some technological advances could be improving those factors, in the long run. They wonder if, by the time HIPAA catches up, it will already be too late.


Pam Argeris is a thought leader in the Healthcare Industry and possesses extensive, hands-on experience with CMS compliance, and multiple regulatory bodies such as NCQA, JACHO, and DOI. In her role at Merrill Corp., Pam focuses on developing solutions for compliance and quality assurance, delivered in a cost effective manner to improve beneficiary and prospect communications. You can contact Pam at

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