In 2015, healthcare spending eclipsed $3.2 trillion, which is 18% of the nation’s gross domestic product. CMS projects healthcare spending to reach $4.3 trillion by 2020 (18.5 percent of GDP) and $5.4 trillion by 2024 (19.6 percent of GDP). Healthcare costs are rising exponentially, putting the pinch on patients and providers alike. Every dollar spent on healthcare is a dollar that cannot be spent on a critical competing need both at the micro and macro levels of the economy. Knowing this, we must ask: is the best possible care being provided to patients? Is the care effective in reaching its goal?
Fred Bazzoli of Health Data Management, in his article “HIT Think: A Moon Shot for Healthcare: 6 Critical Imperatives,” proposes essential components that would give healthcare a chance to reach the ultimate goals that it needs to achieve.
Six Critical Imperatives:
- Achieve interoperability: Patient information must be easily, seamlessly and automatically exchanged between any and all information systems. A patient's data ought to be accessible in full by clinicians and presented in a way that is comprehensive and easily understandable.
- Develop usable, intuitive, and all-inclusive electronic health records systems: Caregivers should be able to use different EHR systems without having to labor at using them. In addition, records systems need to support all of a patient’s information, structured and unstructured, and also should support analytics efforts by clinicians and researchers.
- Solve caregivers' technology frustrations: Technology needs to make the lives of caregivers easier, not increase burdens. Technology needs to solve caregivers' problems, facilitate care, increase efficiency and make caregivers’ lives better, resolving enough of their pain points to encourage them to stick with their roles as the industry reinvents itself and not leave the profession.
- Maximize industry coordination and cooperation: Every caregiver must have all available information on a patient, and everyone can work together to wring out as much unnecessary cost as possible from the system. Data sharing between IT systems will play a crucial role in achieving this.
- Reduce administrative expenses to the bare minimum: Estimates of administrative expenses in healthcare traditionally have ranged from 20 to 25 percent of all industry expenditures. At the low end, that would mean $600 billion is spent on healthcare that’s not directly related to care delivery. Much of that money needs to be reallocated to areas such as clinical and operational research.
- Focus resources on deeply involving consumers in their health: Patients need to understand the importance of paying attention to self-care, whether that means taking on healthy habits, avoiding habits that are destructive and following care regimens. A restructured healthcare system needs to demonstrate it cares about patient health as much, if not more, than treating sick patients.
As the industry enters a period of uncertainty about the direction of health policy, it must get serious about improving care and cutting costs. IT can help, but the will must be there to use it.
Has the incorporation of technology in your organization's daily procedure helped or hindered effectiveness and efficiency? Do you have any suggestions for how to better integrate technology in practice? Let us know your thoughts and concerns in the comments below.