Customer Experience and Design

Is the Economy Stalling Health Innovation?

CMS has paid out more than $4 billion in Meaningful Use incentive money. I believe this is the catalyst to start healing our healthcare system. Let me explain.

The healthcare industry is lagging behind the banking industry about 30 years. When I was in college, I had a checking account with a local bank. It was not possible to withdraw funds from the bank in my hometown. My local bank put an ATM in front of their building and I had to walk to this to withdraw cash. Thirty years later, I can withdraw money from my hometown bank from vending machines all over the world.

This evolution occurred in stages and took a long time. I believe the healthcare industry is poised for the same kind of change. Today, my records are stored on paper and sometimes electronically at the physician office of hospital in my hometown. If I or my doctor need this data, I have to visit the hometown office to gather this information or fax the data to the physician. If I visit a specialist, they will create another set of similar records for their own files. Sharing this information is tedious.

Fast forward ten years. With the introduction and success of EHRs, HIEs, and Accountable Care, most of this data will be available to anyone, anywhere, with the appropriate credentials. The Meaningful Use incentives are priming the pump to make this possible. Until we get clean data in an electronic format, none of this can work. Today, there is still a huge amount of data captured on paper or electronically in an unstructured format. EHR incentives are a great first step.

Moreover, the payors are starting to realize there is money to be saved by encouraging life-cycle healthcare. The care team, the patient, and the payor take joint responsibility for proactive and preventive healthcare of the patient. This is only possible when information is shared. Information can only be shared when it is captured electronically.

From data in an American Medical News article, hospitals get revenue boost from meaningful use, the author concludes hospital growth will be anemic in the next four or five years. She relays, “The deficit problem may lead to reductions in Medicare and Medicaid, which translates into weak volumes and revenue declines for hospitals.” This ties hospital success directly to the economy. We must get our economy back on the rails if we are going to see growth in healthcare along with most other industries.

Meaningful Use payouts are a great start. In order to continue this program and develop others, we encourage Washington to make some decisions that encourage more investment and innovation. Doing this will give a shot in the arm to hospital investments which will speed up the growth of health innovation.

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Mike Jenkins

Mike Jenkins has over 25 years of experience architecting, developing, and implementing solutions for organizations in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Mike is experienced in healthcare, finance, defense, manufacturing, training, and retail industries. Some of Mike’s healthcare projects include: developing a core measures proactive monitoring system; developing an eHealth strategy for a growing community hospital; implementing transparent pricing and outcomes measurement solutions; automating clinical and administrative tasks through forms automation; connecting multiple healthcare systems through a common patient portal; and developing an electronic medical record application. He designed the Physician’s Portal and Secure Messaging Product for one of the top-five vendors in clinical information systems. His application development experience includes Amalga, CPOE, Clinical Portals, Patient Portals, Secure Messaging, HIM, Interoperability, and NEDSS for State level health departments. He is a Project Management Professional (PMP), a Certified Rational Consultant (RMUC), a LEAN Black Belt, and a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS). He is fluent in most methodologies and teaches the PMP Certification course in Atlanta.

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