Who Will Change the Course of Health Information Technology?

Published: Thursday, Feb 14, 2008
Health information technology (IT) is evolving rapidly. Big changes are on the way, including pay for performance (P4P), ePrescribing, ubiquitous electronic health records (EHRs), and computerized physician order entry (CPOE), interoperable patient data that can move from provider to provider effortlessly over high-speed Internet connections, and a new breed of personal health record that will scour the Internet for patient-centric health information. Who will guide this process? The individuals on this list are likely to have a major influence over the direction of healthcare IT over the next few years.

Steve Ballmer

Who: CEO of Microsoft Corporation

Why: Microsoft is committed to entering the health IT arena. Ballmer recently told Health Informatics, “We’re very serious about health, not just providing doctors with a word processor, but also very interested in the business of health, and we’re very committed to it.” Microsoft recently acquired Azyxxi, a health IT company that aggregates clinical information across disparate platforms. Microsoft has also unveiled its Connected Health Framework, which is a schema for permitting the interoperability of patient data across systems. Microsoft may also be interested in the home health market and medical devices that facilitate information transfer between patients at home and physicians, offices, or hospitals.

Craig R. Barrett

Who: Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation

Why: Barrett is a member of the highly influential American Health Information Community (AHIC). As Chairman of Intel, Barrett has been outspoken in his criticism of American healthcare for being too expensive, too inefficient, and too error-prone. He has called for wider adoption of IT to lower costs and improve quality in healthcare. Significantly, Intel has joined with BP America, Cardinal Health, Wal-Mart, and other partners to fund a non-profit institute to develop a personal health record (PHR), named Dossia. Dossia, according to a December 6, 2006 press release, will be an independent system that will “give individuals access to complete medical information whenever and wherever they need it.” Dossia may revolutionize the PHR market because it is not only a repository for personal health data, but also an aggregator of personal health data that can gather health information from various sources and store it within secured databases.

David W. Bates, MD

Who: Medical Director of Clinical and Quality Analysis, Partners Healthcare System

Why: Dr. Bates has played a pivotal part in academic health informatics, championing the role of EHRs and computerized decision support in improving patient safety. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Center of Information Technology Leadership at Partners Healthcare System. He is co-director of the Program in Clinical Effectiveness at the Harvard School of Public Health and Board Chair for the American Medical Informatics Association. His influential research covers such areas as prevention of adverse drug events, improving clinical effectiveness, and implementation of clinical guidelines through the adoption of EHRs and decision support.

Adam Bosworth

Who: Vice President of Google, Head of Google Health

Why: Bosworth, one of the pioneers of XML technology, is Vice President of Engineering at Google and now heads Google Health. Google wields immense influence and power in IT, and while the company’s exact strategy in the health IT space may still be evolving, it is clear that healthcare is too big for Google to ignore. Google may choose to be a provider of medical information (competing with WebMD), a purveyor of PHRs (as alluded to in this Google Blog post), or an aggregator of personal health information. Bosworth is committed to improving the quality and relevance of health information searches in Google. Refer to our May 2007 Cover Story, “Are you Googleable?” for more information on Google.

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