We can put a man on the moon or even further. We have developed more in the last 30 years with gadgets, devices, and technology than the previous 2,000 years.
Record players: gone (almost); Walkmans: gone, VCR’s: gone, floppy disks: gone, faxes: dying. . . I can give you examples of this all day long, if you really want me to.
The health system in most parts of the developed world runs close to 15% of GDP. That means for every $1 produced; 15 cents goes to healthcare and that number is rising fast with our aging demographics.
In this age of revolutionary advances common place, why do we still use paper health records?
We complain of the cost. We complain of the shortage of nurses. We complain of the shortage of doctors now coming into the field. We complain about everything! Our answer ranges from finger-pointing to medical tourism (going to another country because the exact procedure can be done at a fraction of the cost).
This obviously is a very complex issue and I won’t even attempt to address more than one aspect here. I will say that there are many reasons, at least looking at one country (the U.S.) and why the U.S. healthcare system is in the shape that it is. Most issues, I feel, are caused by Americans themselves. Examples include: Abuse of entitlement programs, the lack of preventive healthcare, over testing, and insurance fraud that raises premiums (including malpractice and mal practice insurance). It’s one vicious cycle with everyone eating at the trough. This also includes pharmaceutical companies, lawyers, health insurance companies, and even the patients. You might ask, how does the patient take advantage? It’s a mad rush to go for tests before the end of the year, as what is covered this year might not next. Once a deductible is met for the year (it’s open season to take advantage of whatever your plan covers). Last but not least: Is everything really an emergency?
One Problem/One Solution
I wanted to concentrate on a recent study published in The Commonwealth Fund-Supported Studies in Professional Journals.
Written by Dr. Jonathan Weiner, professor of Health Policy and Management and Health Informatics at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health, and his colleagues, they point to health information technology and electronic health applications and its positive impact of the healthcare workforce. The study shows that EMR, and the likely positive impact in raising efficiency, allows more patient care to be provided by physician assistants and nurse practitioners rather than specialists. It points to the ability for patients to receive more care remotely (telemedicine is going to get really big). These trends should considerably decrease the demand on physician’s time.
Again, the whole idea is better care at a lower cost.
All physicians are mandated to be on a meaningful use platform one year from now. Presently, only 20% are. Even if a majority (like 70%) got on some meaningful use approved platform, we would see dramatic savings and improved healthcare across the spectrum.
The frustrating part on all of this is the answer is there. The solution is mandated.
Like an invisible force, doctors are holding back. The ones that are going forward are getting on to expensive legacy systems that doesn’t truly solve the problem.
The Real Answer
I have to believe that American ingenuity will come to the rescue. I am confident (especially with our group’s project, The Quantum Group and other companies) will provide physicians with the answer at a price that will make it impossible for them to say no.
Let’s just agree that healthcare, even if it comes along kicking and screaming, will catch up with all other advancements in our society. It’s inevitable