One of the focus areas of PC Forum was healthcare. Scott Cook, Co-founder of Intuit, which makes Quicken, talked about the importance of quality control in hospitals in order to reduce medical errors which lead to unnecessary deaths. He also talked about Intuit’s hope for Quicken Medical Expense Manager, a new tool to allow individuals to track and manage their healthcare expenses. J.D. Kleinke, Vice Chairman at HealthGrades talked about they are shifting emphasis to consumers and providing them with comparative information about doctors and hospitals. You can visit Healthgrades and see how your local hospital stacks up. J.D. is also Executive Director of Omnimedix Institute where they are hoping to create a non-profit organization where you can get your healthcare data. The concept is that laboratories, pharmacies and healthcare providers would upload (with your permission) all the data relevant to you. You and other healthcare providers (with your permission) would have access to the information. This is a really good idea but there are many obstacles to making it happen. Ironically, even though the benefits to consumers would be huge, there is little apparent demand.
A woman in the audience made an emotional plea to one of the panels to make software available to consumers that want to track their healthcare issues. There are actually are a number of such programs already available. I use Healthfile and I think of it as "Quicken for my body". It allows you to enter doctor visits, medications, tests, vaccinations and much more. Healthfile can run on your PC but also on a Palm or Pocket PC. This makes it easy to enter information while you are in a waiting room and then synchronize it with your desktop when you get home. Even better will be the day when you don’t have to enter any data other than how you feel today. The rest will be tied together through Omnimedix or your local RHIO. There are already one hundred Regional Health Information Organizations in operation. Soon they will be exchanging data within and between other RHIOs so that when someone moves or has a medical emergency, providers will have access to data that can save their life. Much more to come on this subject.