Healthcare costs have been rising faster than inflation and even faster than college tuition. At the same time the quality of health care in the U.S. has been uneven at best. Many look to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as an opportunity for information technology and other innovative approaches to improve both the efficiency and quality of health services.
What are the key elements of this transformation? What’s working? What are some significant barriers?
To explore for answers, Dan Beyers, founding editor of Capital Business, the Washington Post's weekly local business newspaper, recently moderated a series of conversations with experts from the University of Maryland and the health management consultancy firm Evolent Health, Inc.
The panelists are:
- Ritu Agarwal, founder and director of the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems and Professor and the Dean’s Chair of Information Systems at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business
- Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration, University of Maryland Public Health
- Shandy Guharoy (MBA ’13), vice president for information technology for Evolent Health
The second of three installments focuses on health insurance marketplaces, including early problems associated with the federally administered Healthcare.gov and relatively successful launches through state-operated exchanges.
"At one level, it's not rocket science because many in the private sector have already figured it out," says Agarwal. "The Healthcare.gov problems will get ironed out in the not-too-distant future. It's simply been a matter of bringing a product to market before it was ready for prime time, and not having enough time to test it and put it through all the quality assurance needs to go into such a major project."
Guharoy says: "Interoperability in health care, as an industry, is what's holding us back... Everybody has their own systems. So, the question is: 'How do (the systems) talk to one other.'"
Mortensen explains why states that have developed their own online exchanges have fared better than their counterparts that have opted to join Healthcare.gov.
Listen to Podcast, Part 2: