Monday, February 05, 2007

Connected by broadband, slow in applications (5)

Health care is an area in the Netherlands which needs some shaking up. The health care sector is dominated by managers and not the ones who know much about ICT; many of the doctors do neither. Besides, the varying generations of computers and versions of operating software between general practitioners and medical consultants are hardly compatible. My last general practitioner still ran a patient administration under MS-DOS; this while Bill Gates has introduced Vista after Windows this week

So what can broadband do for the medical profession? Of course it is easy to think of the distribution of x-ray photographs to all the medical consultants. Broadband networks in the hospitals will speed up the medical processes and analyses. It is a pity that my friend Herman de Vos is not living anymore; he would have loved this time. He was one of the first medics I know which acquired a personal computer, an Apple in fact, and got music out of it and statements.

In The Netherlands one of the prominent issues is the Electronic Patient Dossier. There are two problems with it. The medics are not sure whether they want it; I personally think that they sabotage it (and one of the debaters, a medical consultant, stated that he could not work with such a file). I guess that it is partly a generation problem; on the other hand it is a medical chain problem due to the gaps. The other problem with the Electronic Patient Dossier lies with the patient. There are problems about privacy and about the patient taking care of the dossier. What can a patient remove in the Electronic Patient Dossier or ask to be removed? Some people carry their whole life a file with them, telling other medicine men that they are neurotic; this while they only begged to differ with the diagnosis of the general practitioner as they listened to their body or were just nervous.

I guess that we talk about Electronic Patient Dossiers in The Netherlands for more than 10 years and that nothing substantial came from it. Why should it come about now? Just because we have broadband. The KPN bright young manager Elco Blok was asked about the future. He indicated that the technology was there and that we should use it. However he did not indicate how we could change the culture of the medicine men. I guess that it will take another ten years before we will see the first substantial experiments with Electronic Patient Dossiers with patients carrying the dossier on a USB stick or an iPOD to the hospital, the general practitioner and the pharmacist.

During the debate Mr de Bru├»ne, the European Commission official addressing Societal Challenges, indicated that he was not impressed with the progress in The Netherlands in the medical field. He told about a medical case in Belgium, where patients are very efficiently ‘processed’ and get their treatment without long delays thanks to an efficient administration system.

Blog Posting Number: 655

Tags: e-health, broadband, electronic patient dossier , ,

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