Innovation within the healthcare industry is often concentrated on medicine and the specific procedures used in the treatment of individuals, rightfully so of course. But what about the modernization of how certain treatments are actually delivered and brought upon certain people? Would it be plausible, from a financial standpoint, to bring the doctor to us, rather than us going to the doctor? Or would it prove to be so ineffective or inefficient that it would not be worth it?
Electronic health care generally refers to the connectedness of computers, medical instruments, and the internet aimed at speeding up communication while providing more accurate and rapid responses. We can all see this today. Medical files can be transferred from a hospital in New York to one in Seattle in a matter of seconds, while technological developments provide tools and machines that make the jobs of health professionals easier and more effective. However, much of this is not meeting the needs of lower-income individuals who reside in areas where this service and technology is not readily available.
New technological advancements though have the ability to make many of these instruments smaller in size and more cost effective. Bloomberg recently published an article highlighting a study conducted by a team of doctors and nurses who sought to address the issues raised above. Basically, they carried around a backback in an underserved community of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In it was several thousands of dollars’ worth of medical devices that were capable of analyzing samples, conducting tests, and communicating results; all light enough to carry around and remain close by.
Not only was the study successful in detecting diseases in several individuals at a rapid pace, but it also revealed just how much money it can save. “Savings ranged from $4,000 to $200,000 per 100 elderly patients who participated,” while costs to hospitals were reduced by about $136,000 per 1,000 patients with cardiovascular disease due to decreased hospitalizations.
Typically, healthcare professionals have been in a reactive role while they wait and respond to people who come and see them seeking help. What I find most interesting about this is that it allows healthcare professionals to take a more proactive approach and actually reach out to communities that need it, bringing the necessary equipment to where it is most necessary. It greatly improves the availability and accessibility of healthcare treatment while reducing the financial burdens placed upon both consumers and providers. These improvements could reduce the chokepoints that hospitals in highly populated cities are experiencing as they see more and more patients for the most mundane reasons. Simultaneously, less hospital visits would reduce costs; and these savings could trickle down to the average consumer.
Considering the cost of health care continues to rise, could the implementation of electronic health care strategies help reduce the costs incurred by hospitals, and healthcare treatment and service in general? What kinds of long-term problems or issues could arise if efforts similar to that of the study conducted in Brazil were employed in American communities where medical treatment isn’t easily accessible?