Whack-a-mole Healthcare



Do you remember the popular game "Whack-A-Mole?" The game was usually played at arcades and state fairs. The participant would be given a hammer-like object, and while he/she "whacked" the mole's head that popped out, quickly another mole head would appear. In order to get points, you needed to be quick, decisive, and try to "whack" every single mole that came your way.

In regards to health care, our current health system is one giant game of "whack-a-mole." Metaphorically speaking, the mole's represent obstacles. Ms. Pam Arlotto stated it best, "The prevailing model of care delivery has been for hospitals to focus on the facilities, technologies, and support resources of care while physicians determined both the supply and demand for medical services. As we work to "whack" poor performance or negative outcomes problems pop out in another part of the system."


HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) is a major player in pushing the transformation from "whack-a-mole" health care, to a paperless, technology based system. Their goals are to establish a major role for technology in these major areas of health care:

  1. Comparative Effectiveness: Similar to the use of evidence based medicine, being able to have different options available for treating a patient or medical conditions can give help decision making for physicians. Physicians having the information available quickly (due to technology), can allow physicians to weigh out the options for the patient (cost, risk, benefits)
  2. Information Exchange: EHR technology allows for information to be shared between locations. As long as the information is secure and lawful there are man benefits to HIE.
        1. More access to data means quality patient care
        2. Reduction in costs and improvement in effectiveness
        3. Quality care means patients are satisfied with their visit to the hospital
        4. Expanded market share.
  3. Clinical Quality Reports: Doctors are known to have horrible handwriting. Nurses and Physician Assistants will have legible, and records, which means faster data processing, which leads to more patients being treated.

Web Resources:

Related Terminology:

  • HIE

  • Evidence Based Medicine
  • EHR


Arlotto, Pam. "HITECH's Impact on "Whack-A-Mole" Healthcare. October 16, 2010.