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Published: 6/15/05
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Can a National Healthcare Information Network Work?

Simpler structures also make changes easier to manage over time, Jaruzelski says. “The more you get into these lofty capabilities, the more you potentially lock in this system or that system.” Instead, he suggests focusing efforts on trying to put a core set of information online. “Over time, you can evolve.”

Consumer Orientation
Assuming that David Brailer’s team is successful, and in 10 or 20 years such a universal system is running, Jaruzelski predicts a natural streamlining and rationalizing. “[When] any industry has been able to better automate its internal operations,” he notes, the excess falls away and “people get dis-intermediated.”

The envisioned system creates “a much stronger pull for real consumer-oriented information,” says Booz Allen’s Gary Ahlquist.
Ahlquist concurs with this and sees increasing information transparency through electronic record-keeping causing major realignments within the healthcare system, beginning with insurance companies. “Their role would be different,” says Ahlquist. He suggests two possibilities. One is that doctors and insurers may work more closely as economic partners. Insurers may also be able to take advantage of their position as a kind of nexus of the healthcare information, serving more as “infomediaries” than as channels for billing and payment.

For consumers, Ahlquist believes the envisioned system “creates a much stronger pull for real consumer-oriented information” — not just for pricing but also for assessing doctors’ expertise. Data from such a system could conceivably be used to make it easier for consumers to compare the success rates of doctors when choosing a treatment, the way they are able to compare the quality of other kinds of services now. “I believe there is a multitude of business opportunities that will come out of it,” Ahlquist predicts.

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