Saturday, September 1, 2012

‘The Wide Lens: A new strategy for innovation’ by Ron Adner

Electronic health records

"Each year, thousands of patient deaths are caused by avoidable medical errors in American hospitals. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine famously estimated that number to be as high as 98,000. More recently, an April 2011 study from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement found that adverse events occur in one-third of hospital admissions – increasing the projections for avoidable harm. These medical errors can result from a variety of missteps – from infections caused by unwashed hands to mistakes made by overtired staff – but a great number are due to the archaic, paper-based record-keeping that, in 2010, was still in place in approximately 80 per cent of American hospitals.'

"Adverse drug errors alone are estimated to harm 1.5 million people per year and kill several thousand, costing $3.5 billion annually. These medication missteps occur when prescriptions are hastily scribbled by a doctor – and then just as hastily read by a pharmacist. 'It seems self-evident that many, perhaps most, of the solutions to medical mistakes will ultimately come through better information technology,' said Dr Robert Wachter, chief of the UCSF Medical Centre in 2004.'

"In a $2 trillion industry (the largest in the United States) that is in many ways technology driven, health care's reliance on paper and pen to document patient records is all the more surprising. Other information-intensive industries invest 10 per cent of their revenues on IT, but the health-care industry spends only 2 per cent. So why is it that we can have our brains scanned by a state-of-the-art MRI machine and our faulty heartbeats regulated by pacemakers that can wirelessly transmit updates on our cardiac status, but we must still rely on the pharmacist's best guess at the doctor's scribbled drug prescription?"

(pp. 118-9, 'The Wide Lens: A new strategy for innovation' by Ron Adner – Landmark)

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