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Better Records On Our Cars Than Ourselves?

Doug klingerDid you ever stop to think that many people probably have better service records for their cars than for 
their bodies and minds ?

Having spent many years involved with the collection and management of health data to facilitate predictive modeling, early intervention and disease management, it became clear that doctors, hospitals and insurers typically have far more information about our health than we do.

Maybe the time has come for the US healthcare establishment to follow President Obama’s lead and turn its collective attention to rapidly enabling the collection, storage and private and secure exchange of personal health information in a standardized, cost-effective and efficient manner.

Our population is aging, a growing number of middle-aged people are caring for aging parents, there is an ever-increasing range of healthcare interventions and consumers are being asked to shoulder more of the burden and make tough choices about their health priorities, treatments, medications and how they will finance their well being.

It’s increasingly clear that improving healthcare quality and cost effectiveness are critical to our nation’s health and economic future. Engaging consumers in healthcare decision-making now appears central to driving the needed change. But, without a concerted healthcare establishment-wide effort to unlock consumer health information and enable it to flow freely and appropriately between consumers, the healthcare delivery system and payers, can we really make the kind of progress that has been envisioned?

It seems a bit unlikely that internet search companies, data storage companies, systems integrators, healthcare software vendors, hospitals, insurers or physicians will all put aside their differing philosophies, conflicting incentives and varied infrastructure to band together and lead the way. That leaves consumers and the Government. Will consumers mobilize and force the healthcare establishment to change ? It could happen. But, it seems more likely that this is yet another problem that will be heaped on the newly-forming leadership team in Washington.

While we are waiting on Washington to enable health information exchange, take a moment to think about the pension plan. 

Now something of a dinosaur, the pension plan used to be central to the financial life of so many Americans. Not that long ago, people who worked for companies often spent most, if not all, of their careers at one company. One big driver of this behavior was the promise of the pension plan. Work long enough and you will be rewarded with a paycheck after retirement. A simple idea that worked for a long time all over the World. One day, that all began to change. Companies were laboring under the weight of pension obligations. Workers were becoming more mobile, changing jobs and locations. And, the 401(k) plan came to light. Responsibility for retirement planning started shifting from companies to employees and the Government provided the tax incentives along the way to make this idea work. In a short period of time, Americans from all walks of life became investors. They were asked to take on a new kind of responsibility for their finances. They started asking questions, making tough choices and ultimately found themselves in control, like it or not, of their financial future. That worked well in good times and not so well in bad times, like today. Still, the change came and it seems unlikely that we will turn back.

This same kind of transition to personal responsibility and accountability will probably take place in healthcare sooner or later. It won’t happen in the same way or over the same period of time. But, it will probably happen. And, the members of the healthcare establishment, working together with Federal and State Government, have the power to drive this change. To empower consumers, to engage them and ultimately to help transform the U.S. healthcare system into a beacon for the rest of the World.

Doug Klinger serves on the board of MedCommons. Before joining MedCommons, spent ten years with CIGNA, where he served as CEO of CIGNA Dental, among other roles. His resume includes a stint with Monster.com, where he led the company's North American unit.

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celine bagtelephone triageElectronic Medical RecordsCindy Throop401k Plan Recent comment authors
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celine bag
Guest

http://www.saclancelpascherfra.comsac lancel Better Records On Our Cars Than Ourselves? | The Health Care Blog

telephone triage
Guest

It is very important to stay on top of your health and have a check up at least once a year to ensure that you remain healthy. Many health problems are curable but you need to catch them in time. Do not wait to go see a doctor because it may be too late.

Electronic Medical Records
Guest

It is pretty sad when we keep up records on our vehicles and other equipment moreso than our personal health.I think a lot of people need to snap out of it and realize what is really going on.

Cindy Throop
Guest
Cindy Throop

The issue of privacy came up only briefly in this discussion. I think this is a large obstacle in terms of getting consumers involved in demanding change. The interesting thing, though, is that current discussions about health data privacy completely miss the mark. Until consumers can actually “see” their health care data, they will not be comfortable sharing it across health care systems and/or through HIEs. I can “view” my health care data through a portal, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing the remaining 90 percent (?) of my health care data until I am allowed to look at it.… Read more »

401k Plan
Guest

The success of the US healthcare system (as reflected in extended longevity) was one of the main drivers in the demise of traditional company pensions. Pension plans assumed retirees would be paid for 10-15 years after leaving the workforce, not 25-35 years.
“It’s increasingly clear that improving healthcare quality and cost effectiveness are critical to our nation’s health and economic future.”
Probably true. But fixing our healthcare system without tending to our badly broken national retirement system could also strain our economy with millions living longer lives without the resources to support themselves.

GAMA
Guest

The article was a good read. Consumer feedback needs to be the centralized theme for health care reforms.

EllenR
Guest
EllenR

You totally lost my interest when you brought up pension plans, or the lack of pension plans that most of us have. We were sold the 401(k) at the behest of corporate American that couldn’t keep our jobs long enough for us to retire, and big finance that saw fees in all those accounts. Our politicians then proceeded to suck the finance industry for contributions while looking the other way while they dealt themselves fees and high living in New York City. Corporate American is now lining up to get a piece of the health care IT dollar. It’s the… Read more »

Hospital Director Emeritus
Guest
Hospital Director Emeritus

Doug Klinger should be on one of President Obama’s Medical Task Forces. His summary of the situation and urgently needed remedies is right on target. This country needs more thinkers like him.
Yours Truly,
(An insider in the medical community)

John Ballard
Guest

“…a very Pollyannish view of consumer responsibility for their IRA’s, 401K’s, etc.” I agree. And I also thank inchoate b.e. for putting a fine point on the terms. These modern employee-paid plans furnish everyone an easy to grasp picture of the retirement landscape, unlike pension plans which (like today’s health care, btw) are seen as “free,” a benefit to go along with paid holidays and uniforms. There are valid reasons for companies to spoil employees to protect against their being lured away by the marketplace. But paid health care insurance becomes handcuffs. Job-lock may be good for the company, but… Read more »

Alan
Guest
Alan

The post has a very Pollyannish view of consumer responsibility for their IRA’s, 401K’s, etc. Study after study has shown that many eligible employees do not save anything, or save very inadequate amounts of money towards their retirement. Studies have shown that participants have too much money in either funds that pay money market rates or too much in their own company stock. In either case, the investments are too unbalanced on the risk scale. There was also the problem of employers offering a veritable supermarket of plan options. As with many other things in life, too many choices breed… Read more »

Ill and Uninsured in Illinois
Guest

It can be amazingly difficult to even get access to your medical records. In December, I was treated in the emergency room of my county hospital — the place you go when you don’t have health insurance. I’m on a waiting list to see a specialist, but they’ve only got to the referrals from September so far; a doctor who is a friend of a friend offered to try to help, but he needed to see those records. Even for another doctor, with the patient’s permission, one has to apply in person or by regular mail, and then it takes… Read more »

ask a nurse
Guest

The healthcare system is falling apart, but as a health advocate I am assured a job as medical industries are in high demand always. Many poeple these days are utilizing
medical call center and telephone triage services to skirt high medical costs. A nurse line combined with certified nurse triage practicioners is a great alternative to going to the ER and being charged those astronimcal fees.

MD as HELL
Guest
MD as HELL

“cost effective and efficient manner”‘
I thought we were talking about the US federal government. The concepts of “cost effective” and “efficient” are not possible in any government program. Why do you think the government contracts out the admin of Medicare and TriCare?

rbar
Guest
rbar

Agree w. Dr. Lippin. It is an intuitive myth that consumerism will result in cost savings – likely, the opposite is true (by my anecdotal experience).
BTW: Even though I agree that a centralised database would be useful … the huma body/car analogy is simply misleading. Please let’s stop using it.

rbar
Guest
rbar

Agree w. Dr. Lippin. It is an intuitive myth that consumerism will result in cost savings – likely, the opposite is true (by my anecdotal experience).
BTW: Even though I agree that a centralised database would be useful … the huma body/car analogy is simply misleading. Please let’s stop using it.