Monday, September 5, 2011

Health Information Technology and Meaningful Use Without The Personal Computer?

The Disease Management Care Blog had a great three-day weekend, thanks in part to being visited by a nephew and his lovely wife.  In addition to being impressed by their verve and elan, the DMCB also benefited from an insight: practically all of their internet "connectedness" is managed via their cell phones.

In the meantime, check out this Wall Street Journal opinion piece penned by Michael Malone on the death of the personal computer.  Hewlett-Packard's exit from the PC market has not only been driven by relentless commoditization, but by the rise of alternative "platforms" including" the cloud" and the advent of the nephew's hand-held devices.

And lest we credit this to youthful techie coolness, Lucy Hood, in a separate article, opines that smartphones are now bridging the digital divide. These multi-functional devices have finally reached a price point and a degree of usability that is enabling the nephew - and millions of other persons dealing with today's economy - to readily and cheaply access the web for browsing, information and entertainment - without having to own a PC.

It's too early to assess the implications of this generational shift away from the PC for the Feds' efforts to digitalize the practice of medicine.  The provider community is still coming to grips with information technology and meaningful use" (MU). Hopefully EHRs won't share the fate of "shovel ready" and clean energy loan guarantees.

Upon review, the MU criteria may still ultimately apply, but the shift away from PCs may require some changes in how they are implemented.  Can they be adapted for example, to pharmacy data stored on "the cloud," making clinical information as instantly understandable as a city subway system, fitting visit summaries on a cell-phone screen as readily as a restaurant reservation, tapping social media to send reminders, and accommodating individualized "apps" tailored for specific conditions?

Stay tuned.

Image from Wikipedia

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