Is the US Healthcare System Turning Expensive?
There continues to be an ever-growing stress and emphasis on the vast ground healthcare technology has covered within the arenas of services and healthcare products.
However we continue to recognize the innovations around medical records management through iPhone and Android medical apps, but we seem to have neglected a crucial aspect that drives this health system. The U.S. healthcare system has been facing severe criticism for quite some time now, both from politicians and from healthcare providers. Doctors are accused of over-treating patients and failing to coordinate care. There are critics who lament that health care costs are moving up. For some, it is more than twice the national average in some of the counties with no better outcome than the low-cost regions. A few others attack it from the technology angle. If market based competition in smartphones and tablets are found to be driving down costs of these products, why price competition and transparency cannot lower healthcare costs further down, they ask. They fear that computerization will drive costs in this area upwards, not the other way around.
The prevailing confusion has paved way for debates among several groups and action from organizations like the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation (ABIM). The Foundation has already planned a campaign to push doctors and patients away from several tests and procedures that are overused and unhelpful. It appears that this move by the ABIM is based on a report that appeared in 2005 when majority of healthcare policies were in nascent stages.†
But has Healthcare Costs Really Gone Up?
The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has published a review on the impact of health information technology (health IT) in its March 2011 issue of Health Affairs. The study found predominantly positive effects on key aspects of care including quality and efficiency. 92% of patients/care receivers were found satisfied with their doctors using e-prescribing. 76% reported that obtaining medications have become easier. 63% reported less medication errors. A negligible percentage only reported prescription not ready during the pharmacy visits. Also there is a marked reduction in the number of calls after- clinic hours.†
What Does This Indicate?
Electronic health records (EHRs) and Tele-health systems give healthcare providers necessary information and tools to render better patient care and reduce waste. Providers who are adopting Accountable Care Organizations and Patient-Centered Medical Homes consider meaningful use of EHRs critical for improving quality while reducing cost. Improvement in coordination, quality of care and prevention of hospitalization and costly procedures are the most critical features of certified EHRs. There are studies that corroborate this fact. E-prescribing has become a cost effective exercise for doctors and pharmacies and safer for patients.
Tele-health gives clinicians and hospitals access to patient data on real time basis and at the point of care using wired or wireless technology. It offers value added solutions to the needy in a low cost setting. Post discharge and post-acute patients gain immensely from this new approach with respect to avoidable visits to the clinics and emergency rooms, lengthy admissions in hospitals and the associated high costs. Those who speak against the above phenomenon, perhaps fail to observe these.
†On the Path towards Improvement
Improving quality of care and preventing unnecessary and costly procedures are ongoing processes. Therefore, many experts hold the view that Healthcare costs are getting reduced in the larger scheme of things in the U.S. and itís to be looked at as a short-term adjustment for long-term care.
Countering the claims of increasing costs, Acroseas has launched a highly cost-efficient Smartphone app for the iPhone which takes care of oneís patient health records from the point of dictations, to the time of the final viewing of the transcripts. Itís called Orra Health and can be downloaded for free from here.
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