What a year this has been! Market meltdown, mortgage defaults, bank failures, bankruptcies, joblessness, and outright fraud. Surely 2010 will be a better year. Who knows, for better or worse we might even get healthcare reform done. For certain, more clinicians will be going digital and more hospitals will be seeking solutions to improve operational efficiency, care quality, and patient safety. And, no doubt, everyone will be looking for ways to do all of that while lowering costs.
Healthcare has always been a challenging industry. In my 30 year career as a physician, hospital executive and technology pundit, my observation is that the business of medicine isn’t getting any easier. A number of my colleagues have simply packed up and left healthcare for retirement or new careers in other industries. Those left behind are likely to face increasing scrutiny, lower incomes, and greater pressure to do even more with fewer resources.
Of course, before we start feeling too sorry for each other, I should point out that all of this is happening in other industries as well. Welcome to a much flatter world. It really doesn’t matter if you work in manufacturing, real estate, banking, retailing, broadcasting, publishing, or any other industry; it seems doing business and making a decent living is more challenging than ever before. So perhaps we should all just suck it up, stop complaining, and get on with it.
Maybe I’ve become a bit jaded by all the technology that surrounds me working at Microsoft, but I genuinely believe that technology holds the key to addressing many of our current challenges. Yes, it requires new training and skills. Yes, it forces us to change the way we’ve always done things before, and change is never easy. But technology provides a way to automate so many of the mundane tasks and processes that hold us back and take up our time. Technology offers a way for us to communicate and collaborate on a global scale. It can help us manage our business, improve our efficiency, and gain deeper insight to the overwhelming amount of data that surrounds us. Technology can transform the way we deliver health information and certain kinds of medical services. It can augment and assist our decision making processes to improve care that is both safer and more satisfying.
Like many of you, I’ll be taking some much needed time off over the Holidays to refresh and recharge. To my loyal readers, thanks for all that you do to improve health and wellness around the world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments. And thanks for making HealthBlog, a top 100 industry forum. If you have time over the Holidays, please check out our new on-line show, Health Tech Today as well as all the other useful resources you’ll find on our Health Industry web site.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft