A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

It Was Thirty Years Ago Today . . .

It Was Thirty Years Ago Today . . .

June 7, 2008

Massachusetts Health Data Consortium's 30th Annual Conference, held today (June 6), was packed full of thoughtful and thought-provoking presentations, focusing on the overarching theme, "Looking Ahead to the Next 30 Years in Healthcare." Under that umbrella, many topics were explored. Chris Gabrieli, Charles Baker, Len Fishman, and James Mongan talked about, "Looking Beyond the Horizon: The CEOs' View," Harris Berman spoke about, "The Future of Quality of Care," and Robert Kolodner explored, "The Government's Vision for the Future of IT." The last portion of the conference was devoted to MHDC's many and varied current and future projects and forums.

There was much information to digest and mull over, but my immediate takeaways were that health care did not look that different 30 years ago from how it looks today. Then, as now, health care was plagued by fragmentation and extreme variability, problems which continue to beg for policy and regulatory solutions. However, it seems that most of the speakers thought it unlikely that health care will look the same in another thirty years (don't we always think that?) , due in part to the cost explosion, both the aging of the population and its increasing longevity, and the development of computerized health information exchange networks.

But what about the power of consumers to transform health care? It seems that the one small but significant way that consumers are gathering and making their presence felt, through Health 2.0 networks of sharing information, experiences, and opinions, has yet to make it onto the radar screens of most policy makers and pundits. All I can say is, if this trend takes off, watch out, health care!
Lisa Fenichel