Published: 26/05/2005, Volume II5, No. 5957 Page 1

Healthcare operates as a 'highly localised, unacceptably idiosyncratic cottage industry, ' according to George Halvorson, chief executive of US integrated healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente. He told delegates at April's World Health Care Congress in France that IT was needed to bring systematic thinking. He said that US healthcare was the most expensive in the world, but it produced mediocre outcomes and inconsistent quality. This could be tackled, he said, through computerised systems, better access to research and outcome tracking. Mr Halvorson called on healthcare to learn from industries such as electronics, where re-engineering of processes has led to improvements in quality and rapidly falling prices.