In the words of David Perera on the Fierce Government blogsite, “Information technology runs like a thread through the health insurance reform bill signed into law March 23 by President Obama.”

Some examples he gives are a mandate to have a plan for putting all patient records in a consistent electronic format by 2012, and the establishment by this July of Web sites for consumers to compare sector health insurance plans within their states.

Details on the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are posted here:

The Obama administration's stated goal is to have every U.S. resident's medical records in electronic format to help avoid mistakes and cut down on delays and waste. There are plenty of privacy concerns about this approach. But for health care and insurance organizations, the new, technology-intensive world we are entering, often referred to as 'Healthcare 2.0,' now requires the effective management of terabytes and terabytes worth of information. Patient records, administrative information and medical images, to name a few, need to be effectively and securely managed and stored by health care establishments and insurers. The other part of the challenge is organizational; dealing with the burgeoning amount of regulation around the way this information is managed.

The information also needs to have a high degree of integrity and consistency. Data is all over the place—in patient records, customer relationship management solutions, staffing and medical inventory systems, and claims processing and billing applications.

The bottom line is that any organization connected to the health care sector is going to need lots of expertise in data management and architecture—and sooner than later.

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