Cheaper Healthcare! Pipe dream or reality?

The technology industry makes better products each year that are cheaper than ever before. There is a lot the healthcare industry can do to make life easier and healthcare cheaper. I work at The Medical Automation Research Center, which is at the forefront of health monitoring technology research and several studies we conducted have shown significant decrease in healthcare costs (and caregiver burden) using not-very-complex inexpensive devices.

It seems that Intel corp (INTC), Wal-Mart corp (WMT), and British Petroleum (BP) are planning on making employee health records electronic. There are several companies out there that are capable of providing such services such as Epic and GE. However unlike some European countries, this idea has been slow to catch on in the US. For large companies that spend billions on healthcare, take the US auto industry as an example, even a small cost savings can be significant. Electronic Records are a great first step. Consider what online banking has done for banks. I haven’t stepped into a bank branch in years. Many of my accounts are opened in banks that don’t even have branches. I can easily envision the day when all minor healthcare problems can be solved by individuals without actually going to a doctor’s office or by just going to something like Minute Clinics.

The biggest spenders on healthcare are the elderly. Technologies exist which can significantly reduce the spending for the elderly but unfortunately not many in the healthcare industry are willing to accept technology into their current settings. Working in a hospital environment, I often see resistance from doctors. However I see this changing in our lifetimes. All it takes it Wal-mart requiring their healthcare providers to cut costs same as their suppliers and other big corporations following suit.

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