In a bid to improve efficiency, hospitals are becoming ‘smarter’ with the help of this healthcare tech star…
It’s no secret that healthcare is a major expense for all Americans.
Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the US spends more on healthcare than almost every other nation on earth.
According to a recent ranking of healthcare systems in the world by Bloomberg, total healthcare spending in the US makes up over 17% of GDP — which equates to approximately $8,608 per person each year. We are second only to Switzerland’s $9,121 per person each year.
What’s worse, of the 48 nations ranked by Bloomberg based on efficiency, the United States was in 46th place with a score of 30.8 – making us third from the bottom.
The top three on the list were: Hong Kong (92.6), Singapore (81.9), and Japan (74.1). Pricey Switzerland was in 9th position at (63.1).
In fact, even our “good friend” Iran ranks higher than us! Despite just spending a measly $346 per person, they rank at number 45.
And our report card is only getting worse…
A big portion of our soaring costs has to do with our hospitals.
In the latest statistics from Kaiser State Health Facts, hospitals are the most expensive setting for healthcare delivery, costing between $1,600 and $2,000 a day per patient and swallowing up $850 billion of the approximately $2.7 trillion spent on healthcare in the US.
Sure, much of it has to do with the fact that our medical centers offer the most cutting-edge healthcare technology anywhere in the world — so innovation undoubtedly comes at a price.
Yet even with all this innovation to heal the sick and injured, many of our hospitals are stuck operating with outdated communications technology, which is largely to blame for our poor efficiency score.
In a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, it’s estimated that obsolete communications technology costs the US healthcare industry more than $8.3 billion annually.
In other words, 1% of healthcare costs automatically go down the drain simply because of such inconveniences as inefficient pager systems, lack of Wi-Fi connectivity, email inadequacy, and the inability to use text messaging.
Consequently, these problems have led to decreased clinician productivity and lengthier patient discharge times.
The study estimates that clinicians waste more than 45 minutes each day while the average discharge time is 101 minutes as a result of these technical inconveniences.
Adding to the discharge time is the fact that a large number of patients are being readmitted for unnecessary and avoidable reasons, according to the government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Unexpected changes to health condition or planned follow-ups notwithstanding, CMS says that readmissions are too often the result of patient confusion over new drug regimens, inadequate follow-up with primary care physicians, or a family’s inability to deal with home care.
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission estimates that 12 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted for these very reasons.
Eliminating just one of every ten of those readmissions could save Medicare $1 billion.
It’s now reached a point where Medicare is fining hospitals if patients return within 30 days and the readmission is deemed unnecessary.
Kaiser Health reports that Medicare will be imposing $227 million in fines on 2,225 hospitals in 49 states beginning this October 1st due to their readmission penalty program.
All in all, the current state of healthcare in the US leaves something to be desired.
But while it could take decades to reverse the overall decline of our system, the addition of new communications technology could be an important first step in turning things around.
Top Healthcare Stock to Buy:
One company that’s taking up the challenge is Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ:MDRX).
Allscripts provides a variety of IT and communications solutions to the healthcare industry. From electronic health record (EHR) systems to revenue management software, Allscripts is a leader in helping healthcare providers streamline their operations and improve efficiencies.
A major catalyst in the months ahead is its recently upgraded EHR system , which helps healthcare clients gain easier and more accurate access to patient information across a variety of platforms as well as physical locations.
Among its many features, the systems offers a patient portal integration that enables communication between patients and clinicians along with a workflow that includes immunization data, patient progress and goals tracking, as well as remote assessments.
For clinicians themselves, the system also includes a native iPad app called the Allscripts Wand which allows for complete clinical documentation, the ability to place all types of orders, and scheduling. A technology like this will be in high demand as hospitals try to improve efficiencies and avoid further fines by Medicare.
More than likely, we’ll see demand for the EHR platform grow dramatically over the coming year as hospitals one-by-one, attempt to pull themselves out from the stone age.
With the their communications technology in dying need of upgrade, this product could be the game-changer the healthcare industry has been waiting for.
Keep a close eye on Allscripts in the near future.
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