Health Care: A Modern-Day Blade Runner?

December 10, 2014
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blade runnerThroughout the health ecosystem new technologies and medical advancements enter the market every day.

blade runnerThroughout the health ecosystem new technologies and medical advancements enter the market every day. Yet, as Jonathan Bush, President and CEO of athenahealth commented during the 2014 Forbes Healthcare Summit, “Only in health care can you increase the staff needed and slow productivity, costing more, by adding new technologies.”

His point is well taken. Negative labor productivity is ultimately the underlying complaint of hospital leadership, providers and patients surrounding technology such as electronic health records (EHRs). Although more EHRs enter the market and mergers continue between health systems everyday, the need to actually connect care has sadly been lost in the debate about what software to use and how to use it.

As the President and CEO of Texas Medical Center Robert Robbins pointed out, “Just like we are not going back to using pay phones and rotary phones over smart phones, the EHR will never be overtaken by file folders of the past.” He contends that there are plenty of opportunities for improvement, but the progress of technology will not be undone because people do not like them, as they exist.

Jonathan Bush used that transition to equate the state of health care technology to the movie Blade Runner, in which a dystopian future involves hover cars and artificial intelligence, but the characters still use pay phones.

While no one can predict with certainty what the future of health analytics and scientific advancement look like, it’s clear that regression in one area as others surge forward is not an option. Just as we cannot go back to health care in the US before the ACA, the future of health will certainly not look like it does under the ACA.

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