The $213 billion equals nearly 8 percent of the more than $2.7 trillion the U.S. spent on health care last year. Those billions could pay for the health care of more than 24 million Americans currently uninsured, according to IMS.[Murray Aitkin, the institute’s executive director, said] more-appropriate use of medication — taking it exactly as prescribed, not taking antibiotics for viral illnesses, preventing medication errors and the like — could prevent 6 million hospitalizations, 4 million trips to the emergency room and 78 million visits to doctors and other outpatient care providers each year.
Also this week, a USA Today investigation found that tens of thousands of patients undergo unnecessary surgeries every year, often to their own detriment:
In fact, unnecessary surgeries might account for 10% to 20% of all operations in some specialties, including a wide range of cardiac procedures — not only stents, but also angioplasty and pacemaker implants — as well as many spinal surgeries. Knee replacements, hysterectomies, and cesarean sections are among the other surgical procedures performed more often than needed, according to a review of in-depth studies and data generated by both government and academic sources.
These two studies show just how inefficient our health care system is, and how much tech could improve it. New medical innovations that can help patients take their medicine correctly are proliferating. And big data diagnostic technology can help doctors better judge when they shouldn’t perform surgeries or administer other treatments.There are plenty of costs in the heath care system that can be reduced and eliminated simply by disruptive tech. Through smart use of innovations, from robodocs like Watson to 3D printing to app technology, we can make the system better, cheaper, and more efficient even without comprehensive re-haul of the system. The low-hanging health care fruit is ripe for the picking.[Hospital technology image courtesy of Shutterstock]