The Politics of Medical Software

Can I rant for a minute? This is related to my previous posting, but I felt it needed it’s own heading. I came into healthcare via an interest in IT, not the other way around, and I’ve noticed something. All of the software that I’ve seen for the healthcare industry is one of three things: Expensive, Bad, or Both. Unfortunately, most seem to fall under the "Both" category.

Why is this? Is it because companies think that agencies are staffed with nitwits who only got into the health field to help people, and therefore know nothing about software, business, etc.? Or do they think that the demand is so high that they can fool agencies into thinking that this is the best software they’ve ever seen, and then get them to spend so much money on procuring it and making it almost work that they HAVE to stay around?

To me, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when we have to think twice about going to a doctor’s office, nursing facility, or hospital because we’re afraid we’re going to have our leg amputated when we go in for a chronic cough. This is not the fault of the facilities themselves, but of information systems that either suck horrendously, or just are so difficult to use and to glean useful information from that they become completely unmanageable.

So far as I can see, open-source (not necessarily free) software is the key. If agencies can have someone on site to manage the software, and to adapt to all of the changes mandated by government agencies (my mother works for a phychiatric hospital, and they have still not recieved payment for medicare / medicaid claims from the early 90’s), or by changing demographics in healthcare, they will be able to keep up with the ever-changing face of medicine, as well as maybe, just maybe, turn a profit. For one, I’m not holding my breath.

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