TECH: Charlie Baker is concerned about Bill Gates….

So on Weds night I met longtime THCB commenter (and old world pension fund manager) Barry Carrol. He told me that he also reads the Harvard Pilgrim blog. I didn’t even know they had one.

Thursday morning, Tom Donald at Bazian emailed me a link to a post there…so I know now that Charlie Baker—who runs the artist once known as the Harvard Community Health Plan and now called Harvard Pilgrim—has his own blog (and has had for most of 2007!). This makes him the second major Boston health care CEO to have one, even if he can’t quite match Paul Levy for his frequency of delivery, or Paul’s colleague the man in black superstar CIO John Halamka (who also has a new blog) for ubbergeekiness.

While we’re on the topic left-coast patient safety and hopsitalist guru Bob Wachter has a great new blog also.

…and you thought those four all had real jobs….(ho, ho)

There is a point to all this, really. It’s that dealing with process change in health care is deeply cultural and that you can’t just do it with technology alone. That is what Charlie is pointing out to Bill Gates. Read the post, it’s very worthwhile but it’s also worth remembering that culture gets calcified by incentives.

And something that all four of these relatively new and high powered bloggers all intuitively know, and something that makes health care reform quite tough.

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4 replies »

  1. Is that right? What is the only industry left in the US that still uses pagers?

  2. Missed the point, elliott. Technology has to usable and solve more problems than it creates to be adopted. Technologies that work and solve problems get adopted quickly “even” in healthcare.

  3. Assume for a moment that healthcare is an inefficient, bloated behemoth that everyone gives a pass to because healthcare outcomes are so important to everyone. Then assume most everyone who has influence within the current system understands the first point. Furthermore, suppose everyone inside the system fears change for both legitimate reasons (expense, efficacy, safety) AND because they have a vague but strong sense that it will reveal too much about how incompetent the system as a whole is. The result would be the exact stituation that exists today. The incentives for IT in healthcare tend to work, in aggregate, in the wrong direction and that will means very slow change or radical reforms that will cut pay, put people out of jobs or put people into jobs that they would rather not be doing.

  4. Right on, Charlie. Clinical culture and dis-integration eats technology for breakfast. If people don’t want to co-operate, IT isn’t going to force them to do so. Just because the technology platform is there doesn’t mean everyone is going to use it, particularly if it remain so painfully hard to use. IT is no magic bullet.
    By the way, Bill, one reason EMR’s are so hard to use is that blocky, antiquated, way- too-busy Windows user interface on the front end of all of them. Until EMR’s make it fun to practice medicine, and until they effortlessly give practitioners the information they need the way they need it, technology adoption will continue to crawl. You want to fix the health system, get busy and fix the user interface. You’ve got the R+D bucks to do it.

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