A Startling Medical Breakthrough: The Internet

As the recent deciphering of the human genome reminds us, the health-care industry is an information-intensive one that depends on the development and interpretation of highly specialized knowledge. Yet despite its dependence on precise and timely information, the industry remains a notable laggard in the application of information technologies. Most health-care transactions are still mediated by bits of paper rather than bytes of data. The systems used by doctors, insurers, hospitals, pharmacies, and clinical labs to manage patient records are often outmoded and incompatible--a costly and sometimes dangerous combination.

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