HealthBlog

Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

3 possible future scenarios for information technology’s role in health & healthcare

3 possible future scenarios for information technology’s role in health & healthcare

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imageMicrosoft recently released a blog post on the company’s Security Blog that details three possible scenarios or views of the world and cyberspace in 2025. The three possible scenarios are; Peak, Plateau, and Canyon. Here’s how each scenario is defined:

  • PEAK – the Peak scenario represents a world of innovation, where information and communications technology (ICT) fulfills its potential to strengthen governance models, economies and societies
  • PLATEAU -  the Plateau scenario is a “status quo” world, in which political, economic and societal forces can both bolster and hinder technological progress
  • CANYON – the Canyon scenario is a metaphor for an isolated world, characterized by unclear, ineffective government policies and standards, rooted in protectionist stances

What is required of governments and policymakers in order for us to achieve a world that looks more like Peak than Canyon? Here’s what public and private sector leaders must prioritize if they truly want to work towards a Peak scenario:

  • Governance models that provide clear policy direction and a national or regional framework for cybersecurity. Ideally, these models will include commitments to an open, free Internet where privacy is protected, there is harmonization of cybersecurity laws and standards internationally, and global free trade is supported.
  • Talent development that is supported by strategic investments in infrastructure and research and development. These investments should balance talent mobility and retention, with an emphasis on educating a modern workforce that can sustain innovation.
  • Global cooperation that advances cybersecurity risk management and coordination among stakeholders both domestically and internationally, with a focus on developing global norms that support stability and security in cyberspace.

So what, you ask, does the above have to do with Healthcare and the Healthcare Industry? I think all you need to do is strategically insert a few words in each of the priorities above. For instance:

  • imageGovernance models that provide clear health policy direction and a national or regional framework for health information cybersecurity. Ideally, these models will include commitments to an open, free Internet where health information privacy is protected, there is harmonization of cybersecurity laws and standards internationally, and global free trade is supported.
  • Talent development that is supported by strategic investments in infrastructure and research and development. These investments should balance talent mobility and retention, with an emphasis on educating a modern clinical workforce that can sustain innovation.
  • Global cooperation that advances health information cybersecurity risk management and coordination among stakeholders both domestically and internationally, with a focus on developing global norms that support stability and security for health data in cyberspace.

Despite all the hype around electronic medical records and the potential for information technology to transform health and healthcare delivery around the world, there remains an elephant in the room. That elephant consists of the need for the governance models, talent development and global cooperation required if we hope to achieve that which all of us who work in Health ICT know in our hearts is possible. Otherwise, it is clear we will simply Plateau, or worse yet, Canyon in our quest to improve healthcare quality, access, and cost. Since the strength of our economies and the vibrancy of our countries is so closely tied to the health of our populations, we must surely not allow for a future that is anything but Peak. What are your thoughts?

Bill Crounse, MD            Senior Director, Worldwide Health            Microsoft

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