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Can Tech Save Health Insurance?

People in American want to see health insurance reform. The bottom line is the public wants improved access to health care services at a reduced cost and with no sacrifice in quality. How can something that clear, prove to be so challenging?

The challenge is that we have a system was conjured up over time from a recipe of: 2 parts private and public sector quasi-partnership, 4 parts pure capitalism and 1 part pure government. This crazy recipe has produced some of the best quality health services in the world. I would argue that most of that credit is due to the free enterprise aspects of health care services, but I would me remiss to not give great credit to the tremendous research done at universities across America.

This same system has also fostered remarkable inefficiencies that are in large part to blame for escalating health insurance and health care prices. The health services sector does not have the same level of standards driven infrastructure that allowed for the incredible growth and pricing efficiencies gained in the Internet and Telecom industries over the last several years.

Of course, this is hardly fair to compare moving bits and bites of data from Point A to Point B with providing a heart bypass operation. However, even in industries that require tremendous custom fabrication for each job, those companies somehow manage to operate more efficiently over time, manage to remain competitively priced while increasing profits while maintaining quality.

How many people should it really take to get a patient’s medical records? How about just the one requesting them? What if Google ran the hospitals in Los Angeles? I wonder what that might look like. I really think they could figure out how to let the actual service providers focus on practicing medicine while they take care of moving and protecting the data. I think that costs could be trimmed dramatically, while service levels and quality improved. Decreasing costs would result in reduced health insurance premiums as well.

Some people fear the Stimulus Bill’s technology spending for health services is a back door into the single payer system that the majority of US citizens still fear. However, if the government does the right thing, introduces intelligent standards and then let’s the private sector compete, innovate and do what they do best, this could be a huge step in the right direction.

Then, all they need to do then is mandate health insurance so the health insurance companies will insure everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions. Then because everyone will have portable plans, that will put private health insurance into overdrive with fierce market forces competing to provide quality services at a fair price.

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