One of the more inefficient environments in which to capture data is that from verbal information.
Because verbal or perhaps dictated information can use a variety of words or phrases for a singular meaning and because verbal information can be highly originator dependent, it can be challenging to capture in a structured data format.
This is compounded by the professional not having the time to enter the data manually.
Moreover, the threat of bioterrorism has become the reality of a bioterrorist attack.
Although the technology used to attack was quite simple, the consequences of the ensuing terror have been far reaching and profound.
It has become vividly clear that attacks cannot be entirely prevented.
In but one application, it can be understood that healthcare in general and physician practices in particular, have not kept abreast of dramatic improvements in the technology of data capture and management.
As a direct result, all stake holders from patient to providers are suffering.
Technology solutions have not been adopted by the vast majority of physicians, who for the most part, function as independent small groups focused on patient interaction and patient care, and have little time or patience with high tech solutions.
It is, however, quite clear that this is a fragmented market and a giant of a market waiting breathlessly for a palatable solution.
Driving the revenue loss is the stem gaze of the government and the threat of monetary and even criminal penalties should physicians err on the side of over-charging for their services.
Incomplete fragments of patient information are literally hidden in inaccessible paper files in hospital and physician practices around the country and tens of millions of dollars are wasted annually in trying to manage this paper nightmare.
The need for a solution is staggering, and yet no one has yet solved this puzzle.
Doctors know they have a problem and are indeed in pain.
But the pain of the solutions offered have to date been greater than the pain of the existing problem.
With more patients stacking up to be seen, there is precious little time to accomplish this task, so the vast majority of physicians must dictate the results of the encounter, often very rapidly, with no time left to edit or review before the next patient encounter.
Physicians do not, will not, cannot learn new methods of data entry that are less flexible and more time consuming.
Keyboards, pen charts and inaccurate, unedited voice recognition programs cannot serve their needs and so they rely on an existing transcription system and somewhat haphazard coding solution to help them document and justify each encounter.
Many such technologically advanced solutions exist now, and in large part they have been ignored or quickly abandoned.
The threshold of entry is simply too great.
Technology alone is not enough.
They realize that eventually technology will replace them, and yet they don't know when.
Their very careers are at stake, but because they are small and fragmented, they do not have the individual resources to solve doctors problems alone.
Likewise, coding solutions are many, varied and fragmented and likewise, though they are aware of physician suffering; professional coders don't have the insight or resources to comprehensively address the need.
In the context of sharing information, one of the problems appears to be the fact that healthcare in general and physician practices in particular have not kept abreast of dramatic improvements in the technology of data capture and management.
The events of September 2001 however, make it equally clear that a fragmented state-by-state approach may get us there by 2010, but we no longer enjoy the luxury of time.
Furthermore, a key component in the electronic chain has not been adequately addressed by these important recommendations or by the health alert network.
Unfortunately, technology solutions have not been adopted by the vast majority of physicians who, for the most part, function independently.
As a result, incomplete fragments of patient information are buried in inaccessible paper files in hospital and physician practices around the country.
Not only are tens of millions of dollars wasted in trying to manage this paper nightmare, but literally billions of dollars are lost due to our inability to capture the data and glean critical information on public health, treatment efficacy and the early detection of health trends so that effective and rapid solutions can be deployed.
If the information cannot be captured, it cannot be managed.
If it cannot be managed, then care cannot be optimally improved.