Get used to doing more for less!
One does not have to be a rocket scientist to see that healthcare system sustainability is going to be a huge challenge for nations in the years to come. Already, demand outstrips supply in many developed countries. Approximately 50 million people do not have health insurance coverage in the US and 5 million Canadians cannot find a family doctor. These are not uncommon examples internationally of healthcare systems under pressure. Not only are these situations reflective of concomitant personal tragedy, but they also reflect the fact that unless countries get healthcare costs under control, this problem has the potential to sink the economies of great nations.
We hear terms such as 'healthcare reform', shared services strategies, automation of paper processes, but what does it mean to patients and to those providers in the trenches who are tasked with delivering the care? To name a few of the driving forces, we have:
- Aging populations
- Increasing prevalence of chronic diseases
- New and more expensive medications
- Advanced diagnostics and therapies
- Increased demand for clinical services
We exist in a world of increased expectations and fixed buckets of funding. In this situation, there are few alternatives. In addition to doing more for less, we have to improve efficiency and decrease waste. Some of these strategies need to focus on reducing duplication, reducing costly errors and reducing inappropriate investigations. In addition, becoming more targeted with how care is provided - something that is impossible in the dominantly paper world in which we function.
No matter how you slice and dice the problem - the automation of healthcare is one of the solutions. So get ready for more talk and action relating to EMRs, EHRs, PHRs, Patient portals and Mobile Health.
We do not have many viable alternatives!
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