IBM to build computer models of health system

Now here’s an interesting report that I came across today. It’s titled “IBM developing test system to share health data” available from the site.

The article reports how IBM has decided to develop a “test” system that will allow for simulations of health encounters to see what types of information are to be shared between different agents in the system. This system is to use “open standards” and is to be called the “Interoperable Health Information Infrastructure”.

Okay, so far so good. I think this endeavour is actually very good. As the project leads indicate, there is good reason to use computer models to test out new ideas before unleashing them on the real system. We sure know that it’s expensive to try it in the health system, so any means of making the process of adopting new technologies better and more efficient is a bonus.

Where the article totally loses me is this absolute belief that technology can solve our problems. I get the sense that the system designers feel as if the technology will be able to save lives by having information in electronic format, and poof! it will reduce errors and save lives. Okay, I’m being a bit harsh here, but my bias is that health interactions are much more complex than banking transactions. Technological determinism is not something that we should assume to be true. Perhaps this sentiment that technology is better stems from what Friedman articulates as the “Fundamental Theorem of Medical Informatics”. You can read an earlier post about my thoughts on the fundamental theorem of medical informatics here.