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The One Technology That Could Save $8.3 Billion in Health Care Costs


A new study has found the better adoption of just one technology could drastically increase the efficiency of US health care professionals—and it’s not some fancy new imaging technology or robotic surgery. It’s texting. USA Today:

The study, sponsored by tech security firm Imprivata, shows that clinicians waste an average of 46 minutes per day waiting for patient information. The main reasons: reliance on inefficient pagers, no Wi-Fi access, deficient e-mail and bans on use of personally owned devices.

That adds up to a productivity loss of $900,000 per year for the typical hospital — or more than $5.1 billion annually across the health care industry […]

Hospitals fritter away an additional $3.2 billion by continuing to rely on clunky communications systems as part of the patient discharge process. An estimated 37 minutes of the average discharge time of 102 minutes is due to waiting for hospital staff to respond with information necessary for the patient’s release.

As Imprivata CEO Omar Hussain notes in the article, health care is practically the only US industry to still make extensive use of pagers. All other professions have adopted newer, faster, and more efficient means of communication.

This study doesn’t mean that hospitals are slow on adopting bigger, more flashy tech like cutting-edge MRI machines. Quite the contrary. Many are doing a good job incorporating new kinds of medical technologies into daily diagnostic and treatment procedures. But given that smartphones will have to play a key role in any successful rescue mission of our health care system, the slow pace at which doctors are adopting even the most basic texting and mobile phone technology is unsettling.

It’s unclear why doctors are especially immune from the cultural and economic pressure to upgrade personal and professional information technology, but this is just another example of the how isolated health care is from other markets in this country.

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  • bigfire

    You can pry the pager from some of the doctors’ dead cold hands. I still have co-worker who refused to go on the smartphone and on the fly e-mail because they do not want it. And I work in IT.

  • Fat_Man

    “It’s unclear why doctors are especially immune from the cultural and
    economic pressure to upgrade personal and professional information

    HIPAA the Federal regulation governing health care information establishes impossible standars for security and privacy.

    Fear of trial lawyers. The less written material there is, the less that trial lawyers can hang their hats on.

    Solutions: Repeal Hippa and put a bounty on trial lawyers.

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