Sep 12

We Can Provide Better Healthcare at Lower Costs

by Wayne Oliver, Executive Director, Patients for Fair Compensation
Originally published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on September 12, 2013

heartbeat-150x150As the healthcare world braces for the cost and regulatory implications of ObamaCare, there are other changes approaching on the horizon. An information technology boom is underway that could impact us all.

Healthcare is playing catch up with respect to incorporating technology into the workflow patterns of healthcare workers including physicians and nurses. Transportation, corporate America, small family businesses and even state and local governments have adopted technology solutions.

The airline industry became more efficient by using on-line reservations, on-line check-in and kiosks at airports for boarding passes. McDonald’s and most other fast food restaurants have used technology to more effectively manage workers and the workflow process resulting in better service for their customers. The banking industry embraced technology in a big way as more Americans are using on-line banking services, ATMs and mobile solutions which in turn make banks more efficient and gives customers options in how access banking services.

Healthcare is going through the growing pains of installing computer systems and training workers on new technology. This training which includes physicians and mid-level practitioners focuses on how to successfully deploy technology solutions into the day-to-day healthcare environment.

The promise of improved health outcomes remains the goal of health IT. However, just like with the airlines and banks, improving the efficiency of hospitals, clinics and physician offices is a quiet and understated goal of health IT. And, under ObamaCare, the entire healthcare system must learn to do more with less. So, driving efficiencies will be game changer.

And, healthcare data can really change medical practice patterns, drive best practices and improve the quality of healthcare services. Having aggregated patient data will help demonstrate areas where hospitals and physicians improvements can be made. This can also help if changes are made to our health justice system so physicians can work together to catch medical errors and find ways to implement best practices.

Technology can be a powerful tool in medicine. Advances in medicine and new treatment options can be shared with more physicians in a sorter amount of time with technology. As more hospitals and physician offices launch electronic medical records (EMR) systems, we have an opportunity to save lives, reduce costs, enhance patient safety and improve health outcomes.

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