As senior director of worldwide health for Microsoft Corp., William Crounse, M.D., has become very familiar with the differences between America's health care system and other nations' systems, particularly in the area of information technology.

He's seen how other nations are providing higher quality at lower cost and contends American no longer can be lackadaisical about fixing its system. Information technology isn't the full answer, but it's certainly an enabler, believes Crounse, who was a primary care physician for two decades. "When it comes to I.T., we actually lag most of the developed world."

At a session during the Medical Group Management Association's Annual Conference, Oct. 24-27 in New Orleans, Crounse will share trends in the industry at home and abroad to make I.T. adoption easier. "If you think the journey begins and ends with electronic health records, you are wrong," he notes. "It's what happens with the data afterward that matters."

Crounse will share best practices for improving the quality and efficiency of care through I.T., and promises the session won't come close to being a vendor infomercial. "There's fairly light mention of Microsoft and its technology." Instead, he'll show how commoditization of I.T. enables the extension of medical services, and discuss the importance of aggregating data around the consumer to bring the industry closer to having a national health information network.

Crounse's travels have led him to conclude that America isn't just lagging in its I.T. adoption, but is seriously behind. "My eyes have been opened and I get very concerned about how far we've fallen behind."

There is big change coming fast, however, through government action and technological advancements, he advises. The economic stimulus law has taken significant steps to address the adoption rate of electronic health records and he sees a new industry on the horizon. "Within five years, it won't be possible to practice medicine in the U.S. and get paid without using information technology," he contends. "That's the way I see it going."

Session GEN203, "How Software and the Net are Transforming Health and Healthcare Delivery," is scheduled at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 26. More information is available at

--Joseph Goedert


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