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Do More With Less

The United States of America happens to be the world’s biggest spender on healthcare with about 17.9% of GDP (approximately $3.3 trillion in 2016) being spent on the health system. Despite its large budget, life expectancy remains lower than the OECD average. Another study (Mirror, Mirror 2017) found that the United States ranks last in healthcare system performance among the 11 high-income countries. The study explored/compared healthcare systems in the USA, UK, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, Canada, and France.

It turns out that U.S. ranks last in Access, Equity, and Health Care Outcomes, and next to last in Administrative Efficiency. Larger percentages of U.S. patients surveyed, reported Administrative Efficiency problems compared to those in other countries. Nurses in the United States spend 18 hours more a week than their Canadian counterparts on administrative tasks, and clerical staff work an extra 37 hours. Among the many reasons that contribute to the ballooning cost, high administrative cost has been identified as the main culprit.

So, should the U.S. health system spend more on technology to reduce administrative overload and usher a lasting impact? The answer is not a simple “Yes”.

In an elegant Ted Talk, Jan Denecker suggests three ways to make Healthcare sector more effective and they seem to make sense. He suggests to:

  • Look for alternatives (medicines & remedies) 
  • Simplify (equipment & processes)
  • Leverage advances in technology (applications & systems) for healthcare

The first option involves serious medical research. However, the other options have been explored by innovative companies across the world with good success. In UK, National Health Service (NHS) has been aggressively pursuing the implementation of barcode technology to track patients, equipment and drugs through the care lifecycle. The program, known as ‘Scan4Safety’, is expected save over $1.3 billion over 7 years. The cost of the project is pegged at $15 million. It vastly reduces the clerical work and eliminates human error.

Web and mobile-driven applications that assist patients to monitor/manage their health are collectively called mHealth. Global mHealth market is projected to be valued at US$28.320 billion in the year 2018 and is expected to reach US$102.35 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 29.30% during the period. These health apps are proposed to grow & leverage sophisticated data analytics and emerging technologies such as AI/ML to enable healthcare professionals provide their patients the best care possible in the easiest & cost-effective mode.

The trend seems to be clear in the Healthcare sector globally. IoT, Social, Mobile, Analytics & Cloud (ISMAC) technologies will be leveraged to improve patient healthcare experience and improve provider effectiveness towards population care. In our next blog, we will explore some of the popular use cases that technology solutions can revolutionize in this space.

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AUTHOR: Karthik NS

Karthik is a Healthcare IT enthusiast with 12 years of work experience. He works as an Enterprise Business Analyst at EVRY India.