Dave Brown tells it like it is over at the Washington Post.
Most [doctors] are in practices with five or fewer other physicians. They keep their records on paper in longhand. When they need to consult a colleague, they reach for the telephone. They bill for each visit. They have little idea about how their skills compare to those of fellow practitioners, nor do most know what their patients really think about the care they give.
The new health-care law aims to change most of that.
Fifty years from now, it is likely that almost all doctors will be members of teams that include case managers, social workers, dietitians, telephone counselors, data crunchers, guideline instructors, performance evaluators and external reviewers. They will be parts of organizations (which either employ them or contract with them) that are responsible for patients in and out of the hospital, in sickness and in health, over decades.
The records of what they do for a patient — and what every other doctor does — will be in electronic form, accessible from any computer. Software will gently remind them what to consider as they treat, and try to prevent, diseases. How the patients fare will be measured and publicized, and used in part to judge practitioners’ performance. At the same time, the health-care organizations, aided by the government, will make an effort to let caregivers know the “best practices” they’re expected to follow.
This is a very good thing. The 20th Century was the Century of the Miracle Molecule— the emphasis and progress centered around pharmacy and surgery. The 21st Century will the Century of the System. Real progress in improving health care will depend on how well we integrate the professionals and the technologies that we already have but are not using effectively.
It’s all about the team baby!