2 barriers to the healthcare landscape of the future from former National Coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal

Technology certainly has the potential to transform the healthcare environment, and the landscape could be drastically different in the even the next 15 years. However, advancements and the evolution of the healthcare industry won't come to fruition if two key problems aren't first addressed, writes David Blumenthal, MD, president of the Commonwealth Fund and former National Coordinator, in a Wall Street Journal report.

Dr. Blumenthal, who served as national coordinator from 2009 to 2011 outlined three plausible, "routine" scenarios in 2030. In the first, an individual's smartphone alerts him his elderly father has not taken his medications or opened the fridge, and his vitals aren't at normal levels. The smartphone user can approve to dispatch an ambulance to his father and alert the emergency room he is coming. The second depicts an individual who after a sports match is dealing with a sore and swollen ankle. By logging into a patient portal, the individual can type in symptoms, receive recommendations for care and decide where and how to proceed with treatment.

Healthcare, Dr. Blumenthal wrote, can be revolutionized by technologies such as the ones he describes by improving quality and convenience while simultaneously reducing costs. The infrastructure and data are already there, but two issues remain, he wrote.

The first, and most important, issue is ensuring the privacy and security of all healthcare data. "If people can't trust the privacy and security of cloud-based health records, they won't feel comfortable using them," Dr. Blumenthal wrote. "Current privacy and security regulations in the healthcare field were conceived and implemented before the web existed, and don't offer adequate protections for the 21st century."

Secondly, Dr. Blumenthal wrote about the importance of interoperability and having electronic devices being able to talk to one another. "The reasons are several but the most important is that healthcare organizations are fearful of sharing patients' data since it will liberate their customers to go elsewhere for their care," he wrote.

However, these problems are "mostly human in the making," according to Dr. Blumenthal, and so humans are the ones who can solve them.

"If we find a way, the healthcare future will be far brighter for all of us," he wrote.

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