The Great Debate

Electronic medical records after Google Health’s failure

By Vineeta Vijayaraghavan and Clayton Christensen
The opinions expressed are their own.

It may seem that the viability of electronic health records looks dismal after the failure of Google Health, yet in integrated health systems around the country they have been implemented and utilized by patients. In Google’s failure we must see an opportunity to address the fragmentation of our healthcare system and take notice of those health systems that are offering innovative services that help provide better care at a lower cost.

Earlier this month, Google announced that it was closing down Google Health, its foray into personal health records, because it failed to find “a way to translate limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people.” Based on 30 years of research, we are firm believers that technology will enable disruptive innovations in healthcare – the types of innovations that will dramatically lower costs, increase quality and improve access to millions. But Google Health was doomed from the start. The obstacle standing in the way of its success was the massive fragmentation of our healthcare system, and its closure signifies the urgent need to integrate healthcare.

Google thinks big. With Google Health, it would have loved to solve the fundamental problems facing consumers – making it easier to schedule appointments and communicate with doctors, allowing patients to manage medications remotely, or even helping them avoid the doctor’s office entirely. Accomplishing these goals would have almost certainly inspired consumers to embrace electronic health records. But to do so, Google needed a fragmented maze of insurers, hospitals and medical groups to also share their data, requiring them to clear complex regulatory and privacy issues to complete the onerous process of bringing their own information online. These organizations do not have the right incentives in place to invest in such an effort, and so Google Health failed.

There is only one way to speed up the process of getting robust health records online, and that is integration. Over the last year, we closely studied seven integrated health delivery systems – which typically contain a medical group, an insurer and a hospital – and found that electronic health records are immensely popular with consumers enrolled in the systems because they solved their most urgent problems.

America’s Canadian road trip starts today


By Sally Pipes
The opinions expressed are her own.

Today, several of the more popular provisions of the president’s health reform law go into effect. Adult “children” will now be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they turn 26, and insurers can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of coverage they provide.

Nevertheless, congressional Democrats are running away from Obamacare as fast as they can.

Late last week, Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) became the first Democrat to sign a “discharge petition” circulated by congressional Republicans as the first step toward repealing Obamacare. At least five Democrats are running ads touting their votes against health reform. And Democratic candidates have spent three times more on ads criticizing the health overhaul than on ads supporting it.

Are Dems abandoning healthcare?


By Jane Orient. The opinions expressed are her own.

One of the Obama Administration’s greatest legislative triumphs is already turning sour.

Before passage, Democrats were urged to vote for ObamaCare as a smart political move. In time, they thought, people would come to love the new benefits. “Good policy is good politics,” Obama said.

But “Healthcare reform” passed with zero Republican support and bipartisan opposition. And with midterm elections on the horizon, Democrats who voted “no” are posing as heroes.

Don’t demonize drug samples. They are crucial to our healthcare

AIDS DEATH RISE DESPITE CALLS FOR TREATMENTThe following is a guest post by Grace-Marie Turner, founder and president of the Galen Institute, a non-profit research organization focusing on patient-centered solutions to health reform.

Medical researchers recently confirmed a link between chronic fatigue syndrome and a recently discovered retrovirus. Armed with this knowledge, some doctors are now prescribing HIV drugs to their sickest patients.

This story highlights how difficult it is for physicians to find the right medicines for their patients. The interaction between a particular drug and the human body is incredibly complex. People react to the exact same treatment in very different ways.

The next chapter in reforming healthcare


The following is a guest post by Stephen Davidson, a professor at Boston University’s School of Management and author of “Still Broken: Understanding the U.S. Health Care System.” The opinions expressed are his own.

President Obama brought back the healthcare debate yesterday by telling a White House audience, “I refuse to go back. And so do countless Americans.”  Obama drew attention to the consumer protection regulations developed to implement the new law. Given the continuing controversy surrounding the new law and the relentless criticism from its opponents, the president’s remarks highlighted some of the law’s most dramatic early benefits.

Obama’s healthcare address was an early entry in what will undoubtedly be a series of efforts that emphasize how Americans will benefit from the healthcare bill.  The political reality is that as the fall elections approach, the administration must continually inform the public of the beneficial effects of the reform so Democrats get electoral credit come midterm elections.

What the U.S. can learn from Aussie health care

Sydney skyline

global_post_logoBy Alan Mascarenhas — the views expressed are his own. This article first appeared onGlobalPost

SYDNEY, Australia — Here’s a damning statistic: Australia spends 8.7 percent of its GDP on health care and covers everyone, irrespective of their employment status. The U.S., meanwhile, spends 16 percent of its GDP on health care — far more than any other industrialized country — yet 47 million of its citizens lack health insurance while millions more are underinsured.

Critics of nationalized health care paint systems such as Australia’s as anything but healthy or caring, with putrid public hospitals that offer little more certainty than a long waiting list. This is a point not lost on Australians, with the topic of hospital waiting lists a perennial hot-button topic at election time.

Obama’s troubles with healthcare

morici– Peter Morici is a professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland School, and the former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. –

Healthcare reform is in trouble, because President Obama and congressional leaders are not adequately addressing issues that trouble many Americans.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius caution Americans to ignore terrorist claims about death panels. Reasonable enough—unseemly critics on both the right and the left seek to stir up unwarranted hysteria.