Long-term impact on the eHealth industry

It appears the media coverage of the eHealth Ontario scandal has peaked…for now. There will no doubt be some serious short term changes (Alan Hudson stays or goes, the eHealth strategy is amended, etc) coming down the pipe. My concern is the spillover effects of the scandal on the larger eHealth agenda throughout Canada. I now live in BC and I’m starting to see stories trying to link prominent eHealth people to the the scandal in Ontario. Some of the worst case scenarios that keep running through my head include:

  • The politicians and public lose interest in eHealth, and they develop a tin ear to the benefits of investing;
  • Funding starts getting cut of to various national and other provincial eHealth agencies;
  • The majority of the senior experienced eHealth leaders get sick of it all and either jump or are pushed out of the industry. Some may see this as a good thing, but we’d lose a huge amount of domain expertise just when we need it most;
  • The brightest new entrants into the market see limited opportunity in the market and instead go to work in some other industry;
  • etc, etc

I’m sure that Mike will read this post and say “step away from the edge of the cliff Mark and be rational”. I hope he is right and that it is just a case of me making tinfoil hats. I really do try and see the forest for the trees on this stuff, and realize that I may have blatent self-interest (ie my current career path) in seeing the eHealth agenda moved forward. Irregardless of my own self-interest, I keep seeing the crisis in healthcare spending coming to fruition in the near future. We cannot continue to see healthcare spending increase at the current rates, otherwise we will have to raise taxes significantly and triage services. Try and explain to the baby boomers that “sorry we simply can’t help you right now”, and see how they react.

As I have always stated, eHealth is NOT the silver bullet that will solve this problem, but it sure can help improve the overall efficiency of the system. Adding additional paper-based doctors and nurses to the system is an arithmetic solution to a logarithmic problem.


One response to “Long-term impact on the eHealth industry

  1. I would love to tell Mark to “step away from the edge” but I think I may well be staring into the same abyss as Mark. My big fear is that the public discussion shifts to “computers vs doctors”. I am very concerned that we start to debate whether we should spend scarce resources on IT or healthcare providers (doctors, nurses, etc) and that an “either/or” situation is created as result.

    As Mark said, eHealth is not a “silver bullet” that is going to fix all healthcare woes. However, it is a critical piece of the puzzle that will drive greater efficiencis and improved patient safety. Imagine running any other business using similar manual an paper-based systems that we do in healthcare!

    As I have said in several previous posts, let’s shift the discussion, at least on this blog, from debating about whether Donna Strating should have charged for a muffin to whether the Ontario eHealth strategy will address some of the healthcare delivery problems that we now face. Let’s separate the various issues that are quickly becoming entangled in the media and critically examine the pros and cons of investing our tax dollars in eHealth.


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