Rising healthcare costs and waste in the US healthcare system is forcing health services and industry players to re-think how care is delivered. Guy Daniels reports.
National expenditure on healthcare in the US has surpassed 17 per cent of GDP, with an aging population and changing lifestyles reflecting a growing prevalence of chronic diseases. A new report by healthcare experts GBI Research says that chronic disease healthcare costs dominate national medical expenditure, primarily due to complications resulting from patients not following treatment plans.
The report says this non-adherence to medication negatively affects the patient as well as the industry – the patient faces less effective treatment and increased risks of hospitalisation, while struggling healthcare systems face pressure to improve patient outcomes and control costs, and the pharmaceutical industry suffers from lower prescription sales and less evidence demonstrating a drug’s efficacy profile.
GBI Research says that healthcare ICT is being embraced as a way to engage patients and increase efficiency in the healthcare system, in a bid to counteract the huge costs imposed by chronic diseases.
This also means that patients must become more engaged with their own healthcare, with sufficient information to enable them to make meaningful choices.
The US Department of Health and Human Services has mandated technology adoption by the healthcare providers, with innovation grants, incentives and penalties offered by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. Federal stimulus is driving investments in Healthcare Information Technology (HIT), making huge amounts of data open to access, enabling data sharing and coordination in care delivery.
Patients are also being targeted with a range of digital tools, as an increasing usage of mobile internet and social media platforms provide opportunities for engagement between patients and the healthcare industry. As patients go online to seek health information and connect with support networks, there is an increased need for trusted sources for health information. Electronic health records, e-prescribing, mHealth apps and social media campaigns are all playing a part.
MNCH in developing countries
Meanwhile, in other healthcare news this week, the mHealth Alliance and CARE have announced a new partnership to find ways to integrate mobile health technologies to empower women and improve maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries. CARE will work with the mHealth Alliance, hosted by the United Nations Foundation, to develop a framework to support the Alliance’s efforts to ensure mobile health technologies are empowering women and improving the health of children.
CARE will provide technical input and support to further the Alliance’s work on mHealth in this area, as well as lead the development of capacity building tools and measurement methods. In exchange, the mHealth Alliance will explore opportunities to strengthen CARE’s strategic approach to mHealth with a focus on the intersection with other sectors such as health, water, livelihoods, access to financial resources, agriculture, emergencies and humanitarian assistance.
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