Telemedicine, e-mail and messaging "oh my"!

I wanted to draw your attention to a just released interview I did with Digital Healthcare and Productivity. In it, I talk about one of the most worrisome trends I see in US healthcare; how far we are falling behind the rest of the world in the use of information technology in the industry, including the provision of health and medical services via the web.

It's ironic that this interview was released while I'm attending the first-ever Asia-Pacific HIMSS conference in Singapore. Last evening, I met with several clinicians who were telling me how tele-medicine and e-mail are being embraced by clinicians and patients all across this country, especially for primary care. As you may know, Singapore has a very progressive public-private healthcare system that serves the population extremely well at a cost to the GNP that is only one third of what we spend in the US.

As I travel the world, not only am I seeing more progressive use of information technology in healthcare compared to the US, I'm just plain seeing lots of technology everywhere that we don't have. Even the taxi cabs here are marvels of IT on wheels. Want to charge your cab ride using a credit card? No problem. Want a GPS-enabled turn by turn tour of the town? Got it. Want the cab's computer to calculate your fare and then explain it to you in your native language? Done! Oh, I did I tell you about the cell phones people use here that are years more advanced than anything you'll see in the US, or that my hotel room has a 42-inch fully digital, high definition LCD TV with more than 100 channels? I think you get the idea.

Better wake up America before it's too late! An electronic health record for most American's within ten years (now just seven years since that proclamation was made)? They already have that in Singapore. And tomorrow? Well, let's just say officials here and elsewhere around the world see a very big market for delivering healthcare to Americans who are either willing to travel for it, or better yet, want to receive a least a portion of their care on-line.

Bill Crounse, MD Worldwide Health Director Microsoft Corporation