Tuesday Dec 11, 2007

Spanish Medicine

After the coffee break, Dr Joan Bigora spoke about IT adoption in Barcelona City Hospital.

He is the Managing Director and has an interesting view on what he needs to know about IT as the MD of a hospital. I was speaking the day before to a Sun colleague, about CEO's saying suppliers need to talk their language; they are not interested in IT. It's clear to me that IT is the business of a growing number of CEOs. Unless they understand both the problems it can solve and the capability of the technology, they'll get their key investments wrong. So when I say he had an interesting view, he obviously felt he needs to know this stuff.

Medicine is the obvious ultimate knowledge industry. IT can thus add tremendous value in many areas. This is the third presentation I have had from spanish people about IT in healthcare, specifically examining the success of remote healthcare systems, using new age monitors and video conferencing for case care work and even remote diagnosis. They may have something, and it is remarkable how simple some of these initiatives are. I expect that third wave medical systems will need to deal with massive scale and some very interesting provisioning and change management problems, and even the spanish seem not yet to be at this point yet, which Dr Bigora acknowledged.

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Software, economics and society

We have just heard from Dr. Frans De Bruïne and Ken Ducatel, the former talked about the need for Security, to guard against global warming and the demographic time bomb; Europe is not just interested in health care because of the socialists. The ageing population is a jeopardy to the wealth engine of work and the various governments and commission all have different responses (Oh Boy!).

He stated that for instance in Holland, they're playing with a government 'Facebook' page. Will this lead to you having to document your car insurance, child support liabilities and private pension provision on-line in a government portal. The latter might help keep track of what the insurance companies owe you, but do you really want this hackable, or publishable at the will of politicians and civil servants? Despite these fears it is a possible first step to a real EU Web 2.0 and user created content, I am not sure what value one can create through communities in such a portal. It would also need some serious investment in reaching all the EU's citizens, both in the network and server infrastructure to reach everyone, but also in client access ubiquity. Not everyone has access to a computer, although most have phones and the ipod touch with its wi-fi is an interesting and probably popular innovation of the internet hand held device. Wi-fi is neither as ubiquitous, nor as cheap as in the US yet, and I suspect it varies massively with the EU.

He also spoke about how in Germany, networked medical care systems in the home allowed patients to be discharged earlier, thus saving money. Presumably the IT reduces the number of relapses.

Ducatel argued that the US uses its its (minimal, except for defense) public requirement to seed ICT innovation. I wonder if this is because US business has a greater appetite to build its own code. The flip side of this is that "Europe under uses Software". Its an opportunity for growth, and an opportunity for supply, but commercial stove piping inhibits the growth opportunity.

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