Seven Solutions to Healthcare Reform (Part 4 of 7)

Seven Solutions to Healthcare Reform (Part 4 of 7)

In the past three editions of this blog series, we discussed the opportunity we have in healthcare to use more technology to solve the ever-increasing cost of healthcare. In the second blog, we discussed what to do with accessing that information, not only in the mainframes and server farms of large insurance companies, but also by providing consumers access to their data so they can take control of their own health and well-being. In our third blog, we discussed how actually using technology to put the patient in control of their health, and go one-step further, could reward them for improving their health; at the end we could actually propose paying patients to be healthier.

By way of reminder, we wrote in the 4th suggestion: “Promote higher quality of care by facilitating coordination between providers of care and their patients.”

Just a few days ago, one of our readers sent us an article that appeared on, “Tech set to transform $3 trillion industry.” I smiled and remembered that I have been saying similar things for a decade or two. However, the reality is, this may now be for real. Why?

The reason I think this time it’s an actuality is based on three pivotal elements:

A. The consumer has changed;

B. The technology needed is here today and affordable;

C. As a country, we cannot afford the alternatives however, we certainly cannot afford to do nothing.

The consumer has changed… based on a new survey conducted by Accenture Consulting , while 71% of physicians surveyed believe that patients should only have access to part of their electronic healthcare record, 92% of consumers surveyed said that they should have full access to their entire medical record. The consumer is going to win that debate.

Today’s consumer sees the EHR as a tool to connect to their providers. A majority of consumers want providers to share information between each other on their health condition therefore, doctors should collaborate if they want their consumer/patient happy. That is what the consumer of today wants and expects. Another interesting fact the survey noted, was that 78% of consumers are willing to wear technology that will track their lifestyle or wellness, and of this 78%, a full 90% wants to share that wearable information with their providers.

The technology needed is here… I think we can all agree that the technology is available and can help us to achieve what we all want; however, the issue is that in order to facilitate the coordination of care between providers and patients, the information has to flow instantaneously. That does not mean assembling the file, encrypting the file, and sending it across some healthcare exchange effectively making the information received obsolete by the time it is finally received.

We envision, and continue to advocate, an EHR that allows providers, on a patients care team, to coordinate care on a real-time basis. This type of system is available today however, only in large hospitals and medical groups in the country, such as the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic. In some cases, these systems cost hundreds of millions of dollars (U.S.). What can we provide for the small patient practice groups that provide most of the care in the United States? We believe that point has arrived; the patient needs to be at the center of the communication and this has been the driving force that has propelled us to build an EHR that is truly patient-centric. We call it PWeR® for Personal Wellness electronic Record.

We cannot afford the alternatives… we agree with the CNBC article, with the exception that the patient-centered technology, is the best way to reduce the ballooning costs of healthcare that has occurred over the last five decades. Compared to standard GDP growth, healthcare costs have increased 500% in the last 50 years, while productivity during the same period has actually diminished in the healthcare workforce. At the same time, we are also facing an inflection point in demographics. We have an aging population, a 30-year low in the workforce participation rate, and we have a near zero population growth. Even a country as strong and powerful as the U.S. cannot afford the projected growth in healthcare costs for the next 20 years.

We believe that ObamaCare will, and must, be totally overhauled. We hope the changes will, at least partly focus on, putting all the parties on a patient’s care team on the same page to not only provide the patient access to their entire EHR, but also allow the patients and providers to communicate on a real-time basis. I recall the famous words from a 70’s television show, “we have the technology to do it.” We have the technology to put the patient at the center of the care system, a place the patient has not been allowed in this industry, in general. The next major revolution will be when we connect the providers to the patients and to the payors. Why? Nearly 30% of all healthcare cost is not related to quality patient care, and a big part of that is healthcare administration; this is what doctors have to do to get paid, and what the insurance companies have to do to properly process a medical payment claim.

– Noel J. Guillama, President