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Worldwide health IT learning

Even before I started covering health information technology, my mind worked like a series of hypertext links.For example, I was introduced to the Veterans Health Administration, the healthcare arm of the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department, back in 2003 while reporting for Modern Physician magazine. Back then, my only impression of the VA's healthcare system came from the 1989 Oliver Stone film "Born on the Fourth of July." Thankfully, my ignorance was easily remediated by reading that story and spending some time visiting with physician informaticist Dr. Louis Coulson at Chicago's West Side VA Hospital, now the called the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

These memories came back to me this week after reading a report from 2020 Health.org. Researchers for the physician-led, not-for-profit British think tank concluded that the British National Health Service could learn a thing or two about operating a telehealth service for British patients by studying the telehealth system developed by the VA to care for more than 50,000 chronically ill American veterans. The Veterans Health Administration is the largest of several systems of government-run "socialized medicine" in the U.S., so the British researchers were quite naturally taken by the similarities between it and the NHS.

I've blogged before about globalization and healthcare quality improvement and wrote a magazine story recently about the broad effects of globalization on the healthcare IT industry.

But the message bears repeating—as technology continues to shrink the globe, workers and leaders in healthcare IT need to be on the lookout for new ideas and opportunities not only to export our expertise somewhere "over there," but also to avail ourselves of and bring home for our benefit the life-saving and efficiency-improving experiences of our fellow global citizens abroad.

Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn.
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