The United States has one of the costliest healthcare systems in the world. The government has predicted that the annual federal spending on healthcare will be around $4.4 trillion by 2018, or about $13,000 on every resident of the country.
The federal health reforms aim to cut down heavily on this major spending. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act plans to minimize the healthcare budget by bringing in more regulations to the health and health insurance sectors. These regulations will ensure that more dollars are spent on providing healthcare to the residents and does not go in to the pocket of the private parties.
Another important scheme is the adoption of IT to improve medical management and delivery and thus contribute towards savings. Healthcare IT will not save on administrative costs but will bring in more efficiency and speed in providing health care to the residents.
However, there are certain aspects about healthcare IT that need special attention before it can become an effective tool in bringing about the reforms that the federal government hopes for. Some of the important pointers are:
– The healthcare technology should be in complete sync with the goals that the health reforms are aiming for
– Information should be shared through an effective model that has the consent of all the concerned and involved parties
– The technology adopted should be fruitful in realizing the long term goals of the reforms and the Act
It is important to understand that only those technologies should be encouraged and adopted that are equally effective in catering to the immediate needs of the healthcare delivery system and also help in providing long term improvement. Investments made in healthcare information and technology should effectively:
– Incorporate common information sharing infrastructure
– Deliver the right information to the right person
– Build for secondary uses of the information from the initial stages itself
Though information sharing will lead to improvement in the quality and effectiveness of care, the technology used will have to cross a major hurdle. It should be able to strike the right balance between the accessibility of the data and the protection of privacy. Healthcare IT should strive the identify the middle path by:
1. Recognizing the limits of opt-ins
2. Identifying and implementing effective regulations in information sharing
3. Designing a system that will represents the views of all the parties involved
Adopting electronic records, information sharing and amalgamating technology in healthcare is sure to boost the services and bring down the costs. But the implementing authorities need to understand that just introducing IT in healthcare will not serve the purpose. The technologies used and recommended should foster immediate and long term health guidelines, be cost effective and should be adaptive to the new regulations that would monitor healthcare and health insurance in the future.