Moore's law of training and the Obama health plan

What the President needs to understand about all this is it's his successors who will benefit from the investments he is making. Do not plan any big gains in productivity or outcomes from today's stimulus, even should you serve two terms in office.

Could the President's exuberant support for health IT as a "silver bullet" for health reform fall victim to what I call Moore's Law of Training?

(To the right, Gordon Moore, in 2005.)

It helps first to know what Moore's Law of Training is. That is, there is no Moore's Law of Training.

People learn new skills at the rate they learn them. Learning may be continuous, but technology does not have that much impact on how fast you learn.

A good example is to be found in the last recession. IT spending collapsed with the dot-bomb, yet productivity kept growing, because people kept learning new ways to use what they had.

So it will take some years, even after Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are installed, for any benefits to hit a bottom line. Those benefits will grow with time, even after spending slows. And they will continue.

The question is whether we have the political patience for all this, and whether current vendors can get interoperable equipment in and working on the timetable the President has set. Technology timetables have a way of slipping.

What the President needs to understand about all this is it's his successors who will benefit from the investments he is making. Do not plan any big gains in productivity or outcomes from today's stimulus, even should you serve two terms in office.

Moore's Law of Training does not work that way.