Let’s talk about the expense-side. How many times have you been frustrated with the tsunami of paper-based forms and ID cards at your health care provider’s office, insurance company mailings, hospital, x-ray lab, etc. It is not only the mindless repetition of repetitive information placed into little boxes on forms, but the “handling” of this data by none other than PEOPLE.
As Healthcare Reform consumes a large part of the public debate today in the news and around water coolers and Twitter feeds alike, one must look at Healthcare and think about where we are spending all this money. Is it with Pharma? Sure. Is it with providers like Doctors, hospitals and Insurance Carriers? Sure. That is another level of discussion (possibly a future Blog). While debate rages in the public sector about proposed reforms, we should think about the way things are done in the private sector. I certainly am not opposed to or in favor of any particular proposal offered thus far. I don’t think the answer is quite clear yet.
- Analyze and document the current business processes
- Streamline and optimize the low-hang fruit, such as common expenses that are redundant and can be facilitated by technology.
Let’s look at #2. If we really want to improve Healthcare, one way to take a big bite out of the equation, is to reduce unwanted or un-needed expenses across the landscape. As you can see in the inset charts of overall Healthcare expenses, there are numerous areas of process that can be scrutinized. Think about all of the paper handling that goes on across all of these pie slices. How many times does someone touch, fax, staples, mail, photocopy, stamp, reprint, ask for reprints, etc across all of these Healthcare services? Clearly the actual number is unknown, but clearly it is a whopping amount of time and expense already built into the equation.
As a result of a prior study, the Federal government made numerous suggestions:
“Private payors, governments, and providers should continue experiments to improve incentives for providers to lower costs and enhance quality and for consumers to seek lower prices and better quality. “
Technology is one way to facilitate even the most mundane process of the pie. EHR / EMR or Electronic Health Records (or Electronic Medical Records) is a technology opportunity for Healthcare. There are hundreds of EHR systems being developed right now. The Federal government, through the Stimulus Program, is offering incentives for organizations such as Hospitals, Healthcare Providers (like Doctors’ offices) to acquire and implement such a system. Overall, it should take a huge bite out of the expense equation for facilitating Healthcare. This can occur across all of the slices of the Healthcare expense pie.
The successful implementation of EHR/EMR in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, First Aid Squad’s, etc will not answer the current debate on Healthcare. It can merely lower the tone and reduce part of the expense that is choking many Americans.
Nunc est bibendum
Now we must drink. (Horace)