Dell's Harry Greenspun: How to Re-engineer Health Care IT

Dell's Dr. Harry Greenspun talks to eWEEK about his new book, electronic health records and how to re-engineer health care using technology.

When the Obama administration shaped its health care plan, Dr. Harry Greenspun, Dell's chief medical officer, weighed in with his recommendation as co-chair of a task force on health care IT. Now, many of Greenspun's concepts on health care and IT management appear in the federal HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act, as well as the government's meaningful use guidelines on EHRs (electronic health records).

Greenspun is author of the book "Reengineering Health Care: A Manifesto for Radically Rethinking Health Care Delivery," along with Jim Champy, a consultant to Dell and several health care organizations on strategy and operations.

Before joining Dell, Greenspun served as chief medical officer for Northrop Grumman and is chairman of HIMSS' (Health Information Management Systems Society) Government Relations Roundtable. Greenspun is also a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Health Advisory Board.

A cardiac anesthesiologist, Greenspun holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a medical degree from the University of Maryland. About four years ago, he stopped practicing medicine to focus on corporate health care IT, although he says he still practices on airplanes when needed. named Greenspun one of the Top 10 Healthcare IT Game Changers to Watch, along with U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra and Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology.

Greenspun spoke with eWEEK about re-engineering health care with technology, integrating Perot Systems into Dell, as well as the benefits, challenges and pitfalls of sharing health data in the cloud.

What is the message for the health care IT industry in "Reengineering Health Care"? How can health care be re-engineered?

The big message is that technology is really the enabler of improvement in quality and safety and lowering costs. A lot of the larger challenges that organizations face are the cultural issues, of how do you incorporate new technologies into an organization to make them more effective. One of the great opportunities right now is for organizations to really rethink how they approach certain problems as integrated processes and design much more efficient ways to go about getting those things done.

How did you and Jim Champy decide on technology, processes and people as key areas to focus on in the book?

Jim came up with that concept back with his original book, "Reengineering the Corporation." That trio has really served people well. In almost any industry, that's what people talk about-the people, processes and technology issues-because unless you address all three, you're not going to be successful.