Health technology need not go to backburner during economic downturn

In the past several months, there’s been some wringing of hands and some
82pxglassofwaterpronouncements of glasses-half-empty concerning health reform and technology innovation.

For us glass-half-full types, here’s something to consider…

Roughly 15,000 physicians in the state of Michigan began to electronically link up this week. The new online service has been developed by Covisint, whose roots are in the automotive industry. Covisint’s client is the Michigan State Medical Society, which looks to the new MSMS Connect network to enable the state’s 15,000 doctors to do e-prescribing, secure messaging, and practice management online. You can learn more about the project here. Covisint is a subsidiary of Compuware.

The service will be live to all on January 1st and will be free to all practicing physicians in the state of Michigan.

While Covisint is developing similar projects in Minnesota and
Tennessee, the project in Michigan is driven by physicians, for

The Michigan project is especially impressive given the fact that
the state’s economy has had, arguably, the most dramatic downturn among
the 50 United States. A direct impact of the state’s depressed economy
is the loss of employer-based health insurance. Michigan ranks No. 1 in
the number of people losing employer sponsored health insurance,
according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute issued on
October 9. 2008.

According to EPI’s report, "The Erosion of Employer-Sponsored Health
," over 639,000 Michiganders lost their health insurance
between 2001 and 2007. 561,000 Pennsylvanians lost insurance in the
six-years, making the Keystone State No. 2 in employer-based insurance
losses. Overall, over 2.7 million Americans lost their
employer-sponsored insurance between 2001 and ’07 in 41 states.

Jane’s Hot Points: We Americans chose not to do health reform
in the Clinton era, when the middle class was richer and more
comfortable than we are today. Michigan’s physicians show us that we
can innovate when we’re in a downturn. That state’s economy has been
down much longer than most other states. The MSMS has taken the
initiative of bringing electronic health transaction capabilities to
mainstream, community physicians, even in the midst of economic

The point — a view shared by both Barack Obama and John McCain —
is that information technology must surely be part of re-imagining
American health care. Good for Michigan for taking a big step toward
realizing a statewide health information infrastructure. And good for
Covisint for taking what it learned in the auto industry and
transferring that knowledge to health care.

5 replies »

  1. “Michigan is pioneering new ways to deliver better healthcare, which includes connecting physicians statewide,” said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm.”
    So, when do the lower prices come?

  2. It’s a catch 22 situation. The economy and healthcare system are a mess because of their lack long term planning strategy’s. When times are good no one wants to rock the boat with long term changes, when times are tough (now) people cannot make the financial commitments to a long term strategy, taking the band aid approach. Staff, HealthcareReviews.com

  3. That is a very interesting topic. Actually, Gartner analysts predict that, by 2009, healthcare investments in IT will increase by more than 50 percent, which could enable clinicians to reduce the level of preventable deaths by 50 percent by 2013. Of course, nowadays most healthcare organizations have already invested in IT outsourcing, for anything from Telco and Wireless, to Application Data Development (i.e. LIMS, SOA), or even Business Process Management.
    We’ve put together a detailed white paper on these subjects: http://www.outsourcing-factory.com/en/stay-informed/white-papers/outsourcing-healthcare.html . What is your experience with IT outsourcing in healthcare? Are these figures close to your personal experience or do you think there are certain issues we’ve missed covering? I strongly appreciate your professional opinions.

  4. Hate to be a grinch but connecting a bunch of physicians electronically in Michigan for a few basic functions isn’t really that earth-shattering and Michigan has much bigger problems in the short-term than healthcare.
    Unless the federal gov’t is prepared to give a 2nd bailout to GM and Ford for another $25B, both of these companies may not have enough cash on hand to survive through 2010.
    Given that the estimates I have seen that U.S. auto industry directly employs about 600k workers in the U.S. and the auto industry indirectly supports nearly 4.2M workers in the economy (and a ton in Michigan), I would have to say that dollars from any type of healthcare connectivity project should largely be scrapped in the interim and redirected to more pressing needs.
    If private sector/institutions make progress on electronic connectivity, that’s great but I wouldn’t hold my breath either given the nearly glacial pace at times the past several years.