John Halamka thinks the digital health industry is still "emerging." But it has come a long way and is starting to deliver after years of hype. Halamka, a Boston-based physician and healthcare technology expert, says that's thanks to several coalescing factors: improved technology, more favorable financial incentives for using digital products in healthcare, and growing demand from patients accustomed to tech-enabled convenience in other areas of their lives. "In 2019, the tech is better, but also the alignment of incentives is better," says Halamka, who leads innovation at Beth Israel Lahey Health system and is a Harvard Medical School professor. Over his 30-year career in medicine, Halamka has had a front row seat to advances in healthcare technology, and at times has helped drive them.
The Secretary of Health and Human Services remains an open post today, as Democrats boycotted Rep. Tom Price's Senate confirmation vote Tuesday afternoon. But while Dems are still debating the ethics of Price's financial dealings, healthcare communities are already thinking about how he might lead the agency into the future. During a confirmation hearing last Tuesday, Price came out against electronic health records, the digital histories patients make every time they see their doctor or go to the hospital. "We've turned physicians into data entry clerks," he said, arguing that the burdensome recording systems need an overhaul. He may not be wrong.