Lab Coats Plus Laptops Can Equal Better Medical Care

Examining the state-of-the-art of the medical-quality management movement

Michael L. Millenson, a Pulitzer-prize-nominated journalist, wrote Demanding Medical Excellence: Doctors and Accountability in the Information Age, which was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1997.

The book examines the move to incorporate computerized clinical information into everyday practice and the use of performance measures to hold providers accountable for their care.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research.

Key Results:

  • Demanding Medical Excellence received favorable reviews from The New York Times Book Review and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • As of February 2000, 16,000 copies of the book had been sold.

Key Findings: In his book, Millenson highlights the trend toward building databases that show how a particular treatment affects a patient's outcome in the real world.

He concludes that if this revolution in health care is to fulfill its potential, a series of events must occur:

  • Pressure for physician accountability must continue.
  • Employers that demand quality improvement must reward such improvement.
  • Consumers must have access to reliable and relevant information.
  • "Government needs to set the rules and serve as referee, but not call the plays."