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What Healthcare IT Professional Should Know!

November 24, 2008
by Wayne Craige
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Is it fair to state that your level of involvement in the healthcare industry dictates how much you know about the industry? Well, if you believe this - here’s a quick summary of three important areas that all IT professional should understand and be able to present in three minutes or less.

The global healthcare industry - is a huge market with high growth potential in many countries

  • The global annual healthcare expenditure is over U.S. $3 trillion (8% world gross domestic product).
  • The U.S. annual healthcare spending is approximately $2 trillion and could consume close to 20% of GDP within a decade.
  • The annual expenditure for healthcare in the world is over U.S. $3 trillion, or roughly 8% of the world's gross domestic product (GDP). In the U.S., annual healthcare spending is now approximately $2 trillion, occupying the largest sector of the nation's economy.

The potential and challenges – within healthcare, not only IT related

  • Potential: New medical technologies and treatments; new options for consumers, providers, and payers
  • Challenges: Unsustainable cost-demand imbalance, changing demographics
  • Historically under-investment in information technology: Capital constraints and lack of incentives major causes (For example, most patients’ clinical records are still on paper.)

The key stakeholders - whose interests must be balanced,

  • Providers: Physicians, hospitals, nurses, and others
  • Payers: Government payers and private payers such as health insurance companies
  • Consumers
  • Employers: In the U.S., payment by employers for the bulk of healthcare coverage


Michael, very nice summary. I agree with your points. When presenting this in three minutes or less, there's an audience tailoring issue to be considered. This comes directly from JD Kleinke's first chapter of "Bleeding Edge."

The healthcare delivery market is not a market and the healthcare delivery system is not a system.

He means that in terms of the high level expectations people have when they hear the words Market and System.  In healthcare, the market does not behave as traditional market and clearly healthcare delivery fragmentation is anything but a system. 

Similarly, and this relates to your "The key stakeholders" section, the concept of "health insurance" is not the same concept as insurance in general.  In healthcare, insurance is a combination of a general payment mechanism for routine care, as well as a form of insurance for underdesirable events (like flood insurance.)

Again, these are minor points. That said, I agree with the premise of your post, that Healthcare IT Professionals should be able to create clarity for others. Market, System, and Insurance are used in healthcare in a manner that can be unclear or misleading to many listeners.

Thanks Joe, it always pleasing to have your input.

Like JD Kleinke's and many other outspoken insider in the healthcare industry (including you) soon will see our health care system re-engineered around the principles of sound data meaning the definitions that we now share will run universal. Market, system, and insurance will be used unlike now because of commoditization.

The "Bleeding Edge" was not one of my required executive MBA readings but I took the time to read it during a semester and I can recall thinking about the time when Hospitals will evolve into units of health care delivery systems that will eventually resemble utilities, like water and the telephone……the definitions we now share will soon be defined with new meanings.

For clinical professional in the healthcare space — they will have new rules for management. Market, system, and insurance will become fuzzy terms.