Guest post by Steven Chau, CTO and co-founder, Doctor Quickly.
Healthcare is one of the last industries to be disrupted by technology. Although unprecedented levels of biomedical knowledge, surgical procedures, and condition management have been amassed, we are not using them to their potential to create the tools to improve healthcare experiences. A balance of privacy and policy regulations with technology is the key to creating a secure yet efficient healthcare system.
The State of Healthcare
A staggering portion of healthcare costs are wasted. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), $765 billion or 30 percent of the 2009 total U.S. healthcare spending was wasted. Key areas that were tracked include unnecessary services, services inefficiently delivered, prices that are too high, excess administrative costs, missed prevention opportunities and medical fraud.
- Overused services, defensive medicine and higher-cost services total $210 billion in excess cost;
- Medical errors, care fragmentation and preventable complications total $130 billion in excess cost;
- Duplicative costs to administer insurance and insurances’ administrative inefficiencies drive $190 billion in excess cost;
- Product prices beyond competitive levels total $105 billion in excess cost;
- Missed prevention opportunities like primary, secondary and tertiary prevention total $55 billion in excess cost;
- Fraudulent claims total $75 billion in excess cost.
Additionally, there will not be enough physicians in the next few years to meet the growing demand. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects a shortage of 62,000 physicians by 2015. This shortage is expected to increase to 91,000 by 2020. This physician deficit is due to an aging Boomer Baby population, the insuring millions of new patients through the Affordable Card Act, and the retiring of a large number of doctors in the coming decade.
Technology can curb inefficient health management, increase knowledge sharing, and improve access to a shrinking physician pool. However, proper precautions must be taken to safeguard patient information privacy while empowering healthcare providers to provide more efficient care.
Healthcare technology is largely regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It was created in 1996 to protect the privacy of electronic patient data, known as protected health information (PHI) and to restrict access to PHI. Predating the iPhone by 10 years, the HIPAA rules were strengthened in 2013 to increase rigor on de-identifying PHI, to broaden HIPAA’s reach to include all entities that touch PHI directly and indirectly, and to notify affected parties if a PHI breach has occurred.