SOMEWHERE IN THE world a healthcare team is struggling with an integration problem, or a Y2K problem, or a networking problem just like yours. They’re talking about it in Japanese or Malay or Thai, but the tools they’re using are often American. Meanwhile American IT companies and healthcare organizations, pushing tentatively but steadily abroad, are encountering ideas and solutions they can apply successfully back home. Thanks to good technologies and an increasingly borderless healthcare community, a quiet but revolutionary brain exchange is under way. Sooner or later you’ll be applying a solution in Sandusky that was tested and proven in Singapore.
There’s no question that U.S. information systems are viewed abroad as proven technologies--implemented domestically in large regional organizations that are not much different from what foreign governments use to manage healthcare nationally. Technology procurements in these national systems mean big contracts for technology suppliers. Even amid the current economic crisis in Asia, much buying, selling and installing of advanced information systems continues. Imagine the demand that will be released once troubled Asian economies rebound.
By no means are American companies simply applying native formulas to international problems. Collaborative arrangements are growing in number and scope between American healthcare providers and IT companies and their business partners abroad. Standards development, joint marketing agreements, hospital construction overseas by U.S. providers, research alliances and joint clinical trials--all are planned or are currently under way. This will only increase as international governments look to the U.S. for both expertise and technology.
Meanwhile alternative therapies from Asia are gaining ground in the U.S., proof of the increasing information exchange between researchers and healthcare providers around the world. This suggests that healthcare itself is becoming more global and comparable--including strategies to contain costs.
There’s real opportunity for healthcare providers, technology suppliers and patients in a world seeking best practices for managing good health. We at Healthcare Informatics applaud the men and women who are overcoming language and distance barriers to get there. And though there’s no stopping it now, we support the increasing internationalization of healthcare. With the will of the world and the right tools behind it, good healthcare may one day be available to all.
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