This morning I wrapped up my duties at WCIT2010 by participating on the eHealth track’s closing summary panel. I was joined on the panel by KPMG health leader, Dr. Jan C. deBoer RE; patient advocate Dave (ePatient Dave) Debronkart; Menzis CEO, Roger Van Boxtell; and internal medicine professor at Erasmus University Medical Center, Dr. Eric Sijbrands. The panel was chaired by Director DG INFSO – ICT addressing Societal Challenges European Commission, Mr. Florin Lupescu. eHealth track chair, Mrs. Drs. Marijke van Hees, presided.
During the panel discussion a series of polling questions were asked of the audience who responded via SMS text messaging. The consensus of the audience was that eHealth is being held back by healthcare professionals themselves. The lack of dedicated financing was also cited as a barrier to greater adoption. Mr. Lupescu mentioned what had happened recently when the Dutch government sent out notice to citizens concerning plans for a national repository of personal health information. Citizens would be given the option to “opt out” by written notice. While only 3 percent of ordinary citizens said they would opt out, 30 percent of medical professionals said they would opt out. Apparently, the government concluded that medical professionals were more concerned about the privacy and security of electronic health data than ordinary citizens. But I think the results are saying something quite different. I think the concerns voiced by clinicians have a lot more to do with resistance to change and loss of power than worries about data security. None-the-less, almost everyone during the panel discussion seemed to agree that we can overcome these barriers to adoption if incentives are properly aligned. We also agreed that changes will more likely be driven by citizens (consumers) and government than medical professionals. We also agreed that regulatory reforms are needed to speed the deployment of eHealth services.
I’ll conclude with a few more photos I took in the exhibit hall this morning, including additional pictures of the eHealth pavilion. Here, Microsoft and our partners took visitors through a patient experience journey that started in the home, and showed how data and services moved through the ecosystem of care. This included a demonstration of clinician-patient collaboration using Surface Computing. All in all, WCIT2010 lived up to expectations. As I toured the exhibit hall I surmised once again that we definitely have the technologies to deliver health information and medical services in more efficient ways using a wide variety of eHealth solutions. The time has come to move beyond pilots to full scale implementations.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft