Health Secretary Says IT Will Help Quell Inefficiency
By improving the U.S. health care system, IT can make the country more competitive in a global marketplace, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt says at Stanford.PALO ALTO, Calif.The American health system is "saturated with inefficiency," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Monday at a gathering of Stanford medical faculty and students. In 1960, health care costs came to about 5 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product), he said. Now it is estimated at about 15 percent. Other countries spend a much smaller proportion of their GDP on health, Leavitt said, making them more competitive in a global marketplace. As an example of inefficiency, he described how an acquaintance with two children had to take an entire day off work to physically collect her childrens medical records from several different offices.
Information systems that exchange health information are key to bringing down costs, Leavitt said. Specifically, Leavitt said his department will push for better ways to identify adverse drug reactions, common health IT standards, and more opportunities for consumers to share and control their medical records. It also will try to shift health cares focus away from treating disease and toward maintaining health.