Open up and Say e

[From iSource Business, July 2001] Healthcare is one area of business that touches us all. You might not buy computers, build homes or forecast stock trends, but we all get sick. Or we all try to not get sick. Probably the only industry with more built-in market share is the funeral industry.

Healthcare is big business. While wonder drugs that cost thousands add to the shock value of checking out of a hospital, there are also the thousands of tongue depressors, disposable needles and near-useless gowns that must be kept in stock. And since all those items have to be bought and sold, sometimes from a sea of suppliers, it makes sense that moving healthcare procurement online promises great dollar savings.

Alternative Medicine

One of the major problems with enabling the healthcare supply chain is that it's not easy to take a field that predates even medieval barbers and plop it online in a fortnight. Mike Davis, vice president, research area director at research firm Gartner Inc., says this is especially true given the privacy that medical records require. He says that the healthcare industry is trying to employ the ability to extend existing systems or capabilities to the Web so that they can do a better job of interacting with the consumers and the patients. That's not going to happen, says Davis, until patients feel confident about the security of the information they're putting on the Web. Today, nobody can tell you it's secure.

He speaks the truth. Consider Microsoft, one of the prime movers in proclaiming Internet security, which recently saw its Web presence brought to its knees by a hacker attack. A hacker learning your clothing preferences is one thing. Having a hacker find out your medical history is a quantum leap in violation.

Test Results are Negative

Another factor standing in the way of enabled healthcare is what Davis calls a risk-averse business climate. He explains that Gartner segments the market into Type A, Type B and Type C organizations. Type A organizations are very aggressive with technology. They use technology to a competitive advantage. They know there will be mistakes made, but they're aggressive in the adoption of new technologies.