Just call him Dr. Trump
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“If you can't take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it's all over.”

This is a quote from Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE in a 1999 interview with Larry King, and the future of our health depends on the conviction of his words. The state of this country’s healthcare is in more trouble than anyone, including our president-elect, may realize.

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Leading up to last month’s election, very little was discussed about our healthcare system beyond insurance premiums; but serious issues are brewing under the surface of our multi-trillion dollar healthcare system that modern technology can fix.

Addressing all our health needs is a responsibility we should expect and demand, especially when one of the biggest solutions is so obvious: interoperability — the secure and fast transfer of information and data across otherwise incompatible systems.

While there were many calls for candidates across the political spectrum to release their health information, very few of them seemed to consider that records likely consist of an array of illegible doctors’ notes, lab results, and faxed charts all housed in different locations and protected by separate regulations.

We must address the importance of the exchange of information amongst healthcare providers. As of 2015, only 26 percent of American hospitals were able to find, send, receive, and use clinical information electronically. This is downright dangerous when the average American sees at least 18 different doctor’s offices over a lifetime, making it a challenge for any one doctor to evaluate a person’s medical history with details critical to ensuring a positive outcome.  

Some critical issues are:

Our lives

Imagine you are allergic to procaine. You get into a car accident away from home and are rushed to a hospital, where, with no access to your previous medical records, doctors tend to your wounds – using procaine. Your body then goes into shock fighting both your injuries and your allergies. Will you survive both attacks?

According to the Journal of Patient Safety, a staggering 400,000 people are estimated to die each year due to medical errors, many of which nurses say can be attributed to the miscommunication or omission of previously documented medical information about the patient. Our inability to share and process health records is crippling the quality of care in this country, causing doctors to approach waiting rooms, emergency rooms, and even the operation table blind. By providing access to the right information at the right time, interoperability prevents misdiagnosis, medical mistakes, and death.

The quality of our care

Let’s tap into what consumers already know and use – wearables. Wearable tech and related apps can contribute to health records in real-time, exposing unnoticed symptoms and tracking problem areas. Wearables are transforming our medical experience from uncertainty and hassle to informed and personalized. If we can have the world’s most advanced technology in our pockets, why can’t we have it in our hospitals?

The nursing crisis

Nurses are worked to the bone. More than 60 percent of nurses suffer from side effects of work-related stress, which will only continue to grow as baby boomers, the majority of the healthcare workforce, retire. This aging generation will also overwhelm the healthcare industry with 75 percent more patients in the coming years as they enter old age. Interoperability allows nurses to spend less time documenting and filing and more time on the patient and their needs.

The economics

This one’s pretty simple: by increasing the interoperability of medical systems, we could save an estimated $30 billion a year while ensuring more accurate and effective treatment.  

Here’s the short of it: we can use back-end technology to our advantage, connect medial information with the doctors and patients who need it, save thousands of lives and billions of dollars, but we need our government’s cooperation to make interoperability a nationwide reality in the next few years. Let’s challenge our leaders to turn words into meaningful action, to make the changes our healthcare system demands, for the benefit of every American.

Stephan Scholl is president of Infor, a leading provider of cloud software for select industries, including manufacturing, distribution, retail, government, and healthcare. Infor software is used by more than 70 percent of the nation’s large hospitals.  


 

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.