The cost of healthcare seems to take over a greater percentage of our gross domestic product as each year passes. What is shocking, however, is that according to the CDC 75% of the money spent on healthcare is for treatment of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. This number is staggering.
Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The same philosophy holds for the practice of medicine.
However, according to the U.S. Department of Human Services, in 2008 the U.S. “preventative” measures account for less than 5% of spending.
Many patients may end up an expensive intervention that may be avoided with proper prevention. For example, a patient that is counseled on proper diet, exercise, and who takes medicines faithfully, may be able to avoid a life-threatening bypass surgery for a heart attack.
Additionally, mHealth apps on mobile devices are being used to help track and manage healthcare outcomes—another useful preventative measure. With high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, careful attention by patients to the details of their lifestyle can make a world of difference. These apps offer helpful reminders and logging for vital levels, diet and exercise—some may even include prescription reminders—take these as the starting point and add on the ability to share this information in real-time with your own “care ecosystem” (your doctors, pharmacist, family, and what you have is an ounce of prevention).
Policy and reimbursement models are shifting to a more “accountable care” model with incentives being based on value vs. volume and preventions vs. interventions. The Office of the National Coordinator and other policy makers view technology as an enabler of this shift with the government spending billions of stimulus dollars to drive EMR and IT adoption in healthcare.
Technology will not simply be the enabler of this shift but the differentiator between those that are successful and those that are not. These investments into building IT adoption, such as HIEs and EHRs, are a necessary first step. Improved healthcare data flow is a key enabler of healthcare efficiencies and effectiveness.