For a complex number of reasons, healthcare services in the U.S. can be quite expensive. Presently, these costs are shared between providers, patients and payers. However, for smaller practices or individuals and families with limited coverage, there is a risk of incurring impossibly high fees.
By utilizing modern technologies and software, providers can make care more affordable and minimize this risk for themselves and their patients. These tools give administrators the ability to find new efficiencies and give physicians an opportunity to build care plans that can achieve better results. All told, the newest advances in health IT have the power to make healthcare more financially sustainable.
Leveraging practice management software
Many of the things that can make healthcare so expensive happens behind the scenes. Latesh Sen of the BLK Super Specialty Hospital in New Delhi, India, told ETHealthworld that efficient cost management is the future of sustainable healthcare, from India to the U.S.
In the past, accounting for missed appointments, unpaid bills and other issues was difficult and hard to standardize. Now, however, practice management software and other digital tools give administrators and executives the ability to hone in on areas that were previously the source of much financial variability. EHR systems and accompanying systems make it easier to coordinate with patients when building a schedule, and the same is true of billing. At the same time, tracking reimbursements and monitoring supplies and inventory can also be greatly improved with the right IT solutions. Administrators can use this information to identify areas of concern and make changes that best suit their practice.
Achieving better health outcomes
Another major factor when it comes to making healthcare more affordable is working to limit adverse health events or outcomes. Repeated trips to the doctor's office or hospital can be expensive for patients and providers, and complicated treatment plans can also incur greater costs, even with adequate insurance. The latest in health IT can be used to keep patient's safe and healthy and costs lowered.
The EHR system is a way for physicians to monitor patient's health history more accurately. This is more efficient and effective when it comes to building the most accurate treatment plans. For individual's with on-going care or chronic conditions, the option to have an accurate snapshot of health is very valuable. Likewise, an EHR platform gives a physician the ability to connect with partnering labs and pharmacies and avoid errors more easily.
Supporting preventative health
According to international research reported by the National Institutes of Health, one reason care has become more expensive may be linked to an increase in life expectancy. Older patients often don't have a stable source of income, and the cost of care is shifted elsewhere. Some of the most expensive treatments are aimed at prolonging life and combating serious disease or ailments, and this can be a difficult burden for providers, payers and family members.
By utilizing health IT systems, however, there is the possibility to increase engagement and education efforts. This push for preventative health is a way to not only limit instances of chronic conditions but to also decrease unforeseen and expensive health costs. Providers can use an EHR and other tools to offer personalized care. This is a launching point for offering advice related to diet, exercise and other habits that can greatly inform daily health. If a physician can encourage a patient to make a few positive changes, it may be possible to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and other costly and dangerous situations.
Increasing patient volume
If health IT is used to limit the amount of care patients seek, providers may need to increase overall patient volume to offset fewer appointments. In this way, a practice can have stable business even as patients require less care. Using practice management software and an EHR system is a way to lower costs, and in turn, become attractive to new patients. With online tools and other resources, individuals and families are increasingly willing to leave a primary care physician for a more affordable, convenient one, and practices that have lower operational expenses and offer more may be able to entice new patients. Other systems such as telemedicine and patient portals create even greater ease and comfort for patients and providers.