Health care IT solutions lower cost for patients

Oct 26, 2016 | Hospital Finance Efficiency

The costs of health care services seems to be on the rise in the U.S. And although these expenses are shared among providers and patients alike, individuals with limited coverage could be left footing an impossibly high bill. But what is the reason for such a spike in health care costs? David Cutler is a leading health care economist from Harvard University. When asked the same question, he had a rather detailed response.

"Let me give you three reasons why," he told journalist Paul Solman during an interview with PBS. "The first one is because the administrative costs of running our health care system are astronomical. About one quarter of health care cost is associated with administration, which is far higher than in any other country."

Luckily, advances in health care information technology can help make care more affordable for individuals with nearly every kind of medical insurance plan. By utilizing modern technologies and software, providers can make care more affordable and minimize this risk for themselves and their patients. Tools such as these give health care administrators the ability to find new ways to maximize efficiency and give physicians a better opportunity to design plans that actually achieve results. Perhaps most importantly, however, new advances have the potential to make health care more financially sustainable for all parties involved.

Making the best use of practice management software
Many of the things that can make healthcare so expensive happens behind the scenes. Latesh Sen of the BLK Super Specialty Hospital in New Delhi told ETHealthworld that efficient cost management is the future of sustainable healthcare for people around the world.

"Cost management is the process of planning and controlling the budget of a business," she said. "It is a form of management accounting that allows a business to predict impending expenditures to help reduce the chance of going over budget. With the evolution of new techniques and research, healthcare is no more a system of patient care only. With sizable investment in equipment, infrastructure and manpower, it is as vulnerable as any other industry in terms of financial viability."

Prior to the development of practice management software, issues such as missed appointments and unpaid bills were extremely difficult to organize and standardize. These days, however, practice management software and other advances in technology give health care administrators the chance to recognize problems as they develop. Electronic Health Record systems make it easier for admins to communicate with patients regarding scheduling and billing. The same can be done for medical supplies and even the tracking of reimbursements. Health care administrators who take advantage of practice management software should be able to focus on areas of concern within their own practice and improve on them.

Better health outcomes are (and should be) the name of the game

"The most important aspect of healthcare is achieving positive results."

The most important aspect of health care is achieving positive results, and doing so quickly can lead to savings for the patient. Repeat visits to your doctor's office or local hospital can be incredibly expensive for both patients and providers. If a patient has a health condition that requires a complicated, continual treatment plan, he or she could be staring down the barrel of a massive medical bill. By utilizing the latest health care IT solutions, medical professionals can better treat patients and, in turn, lower the amount individuals have to pay for treatment.

Overall, EHR systems are a convenient way for physicians to track a patient's progress throughout treatment and also examine past events in that individual's medical history. For people who have chronic conditions that require ongoing care, having a clear and concise view of their health history makes it easier for doctors to come up with an effective course of action. Moreover, EHRs allow physicians, nurses and other medical professionals to connect with one another as well as labs and pharmacies. The end result is fewer errors and a better result for the patient.

Preventative health measures
An increase in life expectancy is another reason that the cost of health care has gone up in recent years, according to research conducted by the National Institute of Health. Chronic disease is more common in older individuals, and a lot of elderly patients don't have a stable source of income anymore. As a result, they are left trying to pay for some of the most expensive treatments in the medical community.

Educating people on preventative measures could help lower healthcare costs.Educating people on preventative measures could help lower health care costs.

Increasing patient engagement and education can be done through health IT systems as well. Preventative measures taken as a result of education are great ways to limit occurrences of some disease and eliminate associated health costs. If a doctor or nurse can convince patients to make just a few minor, positive changes in their lives, the end result may be less cases of heart disease, stroke and other dangerous (and deadly) scenarios.

Increasing patient volume

"Make your practice more attractive than others."

Some health care providers may be worried that fewer appointments may translate to less business for the practice. But utilizing practice management software and EHR systems can lower the cost of care and make your practice more attractive than others. Because there are so many digital tools out there now, both individuals and families are more willing than before to leave their lifelong primary care physician for a convenient and affordable new health care provider. Remember, if you want to make your medical practice more attractive to potential patients, the name of the game is access for the patients. In addition to lower costs, the patients' ability to get in touch with their physicians easily is essential.

In an evolving health care sector, it is becoming crucial for providers to find ways to limit their overhead costs while increasing the quality of care. For more resources and training materials to improve your hospital's financial efficiency and protect your bottom line, contact Professional Medical Services today.