Health Care: Innovation

The debate of private insurance plans versus public insurance plans has been waged for decades, inevitably resulting in a stalemate. Regardless of the political landscape pertaining to Health Care, I view innovation in both health services and health insurance as the key to increasing value. So far, I have argued that the structure of the insurance industry and competitive differentiators have created an environment that results in exorbitant costs for the average customer and lower quality of care. I now plan to outline the current environment pertaining to innovation, and propose several ideas to ensure that innovation is the inhibitor of cost savings and not the inhibitor of cost.

Over the last couple of decades we have seen the role of health insurance providers expand. Managed health plans are now offering full-scope services ranging from prescription co-pays, in network doctors, preferred services, alliances, and online accounts; however, none of these seem to be doing anything to reducing the cost of care. In fact, I think it is pretty obvious that all of the innovation that should be helping to increase transparency in the system, improve performance, and reduce costs are actually having an inverse effect. Ironically, the technological advancements in medical technology have not contributed to a lower cost of care or a higher quality of care.

Strategically we need to start thinking about ways that we can innovate in terms of technology, processes, and information services in order to start establishing solutions that not only improve quality of life, pharmaceutical sciences, and medical technology but also the way that insurance and care services are administered and delivered. Below are a few ideas that may help to drive innovation into the industry and yield returns in access of the current structure:

National Health History Repository: Nationally sponsored database that includes each individuals medical history that is accessible in one electronic location and is available by patients and doctors. This would enable patients to transfer doctors without dealing with the administrative hassle of transferring or forwarding medical records.

Collaborative Diagnosis Technologies: Utilize web and computer technologies to have doctors around the world interact and treat patients remotely.

Performance Measurement Standards: The health services industry should have a common set of measurements or performance indicators established to evaluate the quality of care delivered by practitioners. Performance based systems are always an effective manner of driving the appropriate behavior at the delivery level through competitive forces.

Aside from dealing with the current Medicare crisis (Healthcare Reform), we all need to start opening our minds and exploring ideas that will accomplish the ultimate goal of a higher quality of life at a reasonable cost. I think everyone would agree that if medical costs continue to grow at double digit rates that health services will eventually account for an exorbitant portion of corporate expenditures and GDP.

“National health spending is expected to reach $2.5 trillion in 2009, accounting for 17.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). By 2018, national health care expenditures are expected to reach $4.4 trillion—more than double 2007 spending.1”
The National Coalition on Health Care

The realism of it is…we have 10 years to do something about restructuring health care….lets get working on it now! If you have any ideas, please leave a comment.

A few articles for your reading pleasure:
Health Care: Costs and Reform
The Business of Health Care Innovation
Health-Care Innovation

2 Comments on “Health Care: Innovation

  1. I agree that in a lot of instances you can not have innovation without cost. I would never deny that technological advancement and innovation is prominent in pharmaceuticals or diagnostics; however, the insurance side and collaborative tools are lacking. Many of the items that I proposed would probably add cost and do not necessarily address the health proposals that are circulating through Congress. I would like to see innovations that will produce relatively higher ROI on a cost savings basis, in addition to improving the transparency of the health industry. The industry is extremely complex so it is difficult to pinpoint any one specific item as the cause of a poor value proposition.Yes, I understand the health care option; however, I am a bit concerned about mandated insurance. I heard on the news that those who opt out of insurance could potentially face annual penalties of $200 to $800. I pretty much view the bill as an expansion of Medicare, of which, I am relatively impartial.There is no singular solution to solve the health care crisis. All I can do is take control of my own personal health and save for long term expenditures and future complications to the best of my ability.A national repository would reduce administrative costs associated with transferring records. It would also enable patients to understand and access their own records. This is just a personal preference but I think on a massive scale it could drastically reduce administrative costs. I do not assume that the uninsured do not consume health services.I am not sure what you mean by your last point. I think that service level technologies would increase collaboration amongst specialists and actually help with accurate diagnosis.With that I ask, what types of innovations would you propose? Or what would you draft into a Health Care bill to encourage or support innovative initiatives?

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