We've heard it a thousand times before — how to improve government efficiency, streamline processes and manage costs. In fact, in Washington, D.C. — a city best known for its partisan battles of epic proportions — improving how government operates seems to be a rare moment of agreement, rather than disagreement. But what's not really discussed is the downstream affect and impact of such inefficiencies, and the consequences in some cases can be fatal.
One of the most important issues in healthcare is patient safety. However, last year, the D.C. Superior Court found a former Washington nurse guilty of sexually assaulting three patients in the emergency room of three hospitals between 2013 and 2014. It was also previously reported by the Washington Post that the nurse continued to work in Washington and Maryland despite these allegations of sexual abuse.
But Washington, D.C., isn't alone. If you follow the news, these sorts of headlines are becoming far too common across the country. In fact, just a few months ago, the Tucson Sentinel reported that the Arizona medical boards can take years to penalize doctors who overprescribe. Years!
But that's not all. Consider you're a patient at a world-renowned treatment facility and enrolled in a clinical trial, and you're told that your life-saving drug and treatment program is on hold because the attending physician needs to ensure that his or her medical license is up to date and in order. While shocking, this is not uncommon — in fact, many patients are alerted of this administrative issue while they are in the middle of their treatment program.
So, what's the common denominator? The answer is quite simple: States are still using outdated technologies and licensing systems that restrict government regulators from sharing licensure information and investigations across state lines in a timely fashion.
State governments need to explore ways to integrate innovation and the latest technologies to address these pressing issues. By addressing known deficiencies in licensing system technologies our communities and residents can better their access to qualified and safe health professionals. Let's not allow decades-old technology create a 2017 crisis. We can't afford it. Lives are depending on it.
Mark Vargas (@MarkAVargas) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is co-founder and president of tech startup Licentiam. In 2013 he oversaw the "Stronger2gether" initiative to reduce infant mortality under then-D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.