The Goldman Sachs report I mentioned in the first part of this series mentions that remote patient monitoring (RPM) enables healthcare providers to better manage high risk patients, potentially decreasing healthcare spending through better chronic disease management. Further, the report notes that most chronic disease spending can be attributed to heart disease, asthma, and diabetes-disease states that represent the most fertile ground for digital health.
Last week, I talked about how the digital healthcare revolution has arrived and its potential applications, including telehealth. Another way this digital transformation is changing healthcare is how it affects behavioral modification and adaptation.
Digital healthcare holds the promise of saving a staggering $305 billion, according to a recently published report from Goldman Sachs. The report predicts the technology revolution will come from increasing access to diagnostic, treatment, and preventative care, coupled with dramatic cost reductions. In particular, they see significant opportunities for digitally-enabled telehealth, behavioral modification and remote patient monitoring, while much of the savings will be generated by the elimination of redundant and wasteful spending in the area of chronic disease management.
Over the past year, the perception of mobile technology in healthcare has changed dramatically. mHealth is now being recognized as a tool that can help address the challenges our healthcare system is facing, including a shortage of caregivers, an influx of newly insured patients, decreased reimbursements and readmission penalties. Historically, there have always been barriers that kept hospitals from making the leap to mobility – lack of infrastructure, costs, or the fear of security breaches, among other reasons. Yet as mobile technology becomes deeply ingrained in our day-to-day work and social lives, healthcare is following suit and migrating toward mobility as a component of care delivery.
However, concerns about security remain at the forefront. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more than 41 million people have had their protected health information compromised in a reportable HIPAA privacy or security breach. Additional data from the 2014 Healthcare Breach Report from Bitglass suggests that 68 percent of all healthcare data breaches are due to device theft or loss and 48 percent of breaches involve a laptop, desktop or mobile device.
Health IT is often considered a silent partner in healthcare – not seen by patients, but a critical part of the system. As we celebrate National Health IT Week, it’s important to realize that although health IT already has a long history, the constant and rapid evolution of this space continues to transform the market. Information has been collected and stored for years, but the promise of clinical decision support has us at the cusp of all this information becoming valuable in new and innovative ways.
Just a decade ago, I was documenting patient encounters in paper charts. Although the transition to electronic medical records (EMRs) has been perceived as slow, in the grand scheme of medicine it actually happened almost overnight. These systems were not designed with our continuously changing workflow in mind, with user interfaces and workflows that aligned to our practices. They served as repositories for patient information, but did little else. In fact, our workflow changed to support the EMR, sometimes to the detriment of the patient. Instead of focusing directly on the patient, we often must split our time and attention between the patient and the computer terminal.
The ICU and its workforce play a central role in health systems’ – and patients’ – overall health, with the department accounting for 10 percent of total in-patient beds and 30 percent of in-patient costs. Six million Americans are admitted to the ICU each year. At the same time, critical care is taking a big hit from the physician shortage, with a projected short-fall of up to 22 percent by 2020. Compounding this, ICUs are facing increased cost pressure and scrutiny with regard to patient safety and quality. In ICUs, serious errors occur in 150 of every 1,000 patients and adverse events occur in 81 out of every 1,000 patients.
The U.S. military has long been a pioneer in the use of cutting-edge health technologies that provide real benefit to clinicians and patients. Not only does it provide the ideal location to create and implement such technologies, but it’s also a key testing ground for a range of new solutions that can and should be implemented in hospitals and health networks across the U.S.
As a Navy physician deployed with the Marines in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, I was able to witness and experience firsthand the impact of new electronic health technologies. Despite the inhospitable environment and lack of existing infrastructure, we had wireless monitoring devices to measure vital signs, X-ray machines that provided digital images, and often the ability to access a ‘light’ version of the military’s electronic medical records system. We could also send pictures and clinical summaries via secure email to specialists for expedited consultations. Continue reading