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Reforming Delivery
Goldman Sachs: Med Tech Could Save Over $300 Billion

This is how transformative medical technology could be: Business Insider covers a new report by Goldman Sachs that predicts innovations are poised to save the country over $300 billion. According to BI, Goldman focuses on “telehealth, behavior modification, and remote patient monitoring” as three key areas in which efficiency and savings gains are just around the corner. Here’s what the story says about remote monitoring, especially of those with chronic conditions:

Remote patient monitoring enables healthcare providers to frequently keep track of high risk patients. This sits “at the bulls-eye of the healthcare cost challenge” according to the report, because chronic disease management accounts for about 1/3 of all US healthcare spending. And most of that spending can be attributed to heart disease, asthma and diabetes.

“These disease states also represent the most fertile ground for digital health since data and modification of treatment paradigms have demonstrated improved patient outcomes, lower adverse events, and reduced costs,” the report said […]

But the report also speculates about developments a little further afield, including the de-hospitalization of health care as technology enables more decentralized care:

“The advent of mobile and the advancement of sensors effectively allow for the miniaturization of medical equipment that formerly only a centralized institution could afford,” the report said. “In this way, we envision IoT enabling a hospital of the future based almost exclusively in ‘the cloud.'”

We’ve talked a lot about medical technology on this site, and for good reason. While health care policy matters—and has an important role in making sure we grease the wheels for the innovations described by Goldman—some of the most promising avenues for bringing down costs lie outside the kind of policy tinkering the ACA represents. Unless we find cheaper ways to get care to patients—whether by collecting better data on their conditions, or moving care out of the hospital setting, or other ways—all our other health reforms aren’t likely to work very well. And if we do work to lower costs, every other reform we might want to do becomes easier.

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  • rheddles

    Sounds just like the way MOOCS will make college cost next to nothing.

  • qet

    “Behavior modification.” Well, yeah, that ALWAYS works. But look: the premise of this argument is demonstrably wrong. In the past 50 years, as medical technology has advanced, costs have risen, greatly. Technology increases costs, it doesn’t lower them. Technology is to society what carbon monoxide is to the body: it usurps the place of oxygen while failing to deliver the oxygen it does have to the tissues that need it.

    • Andrew Allison

      You raise a good point — there clearly needs to be a cost/benefit analysis of all the technology (and, especially, drugs). But, we also need to consider the fact that there are more of us living much, much longer. As an aside, does anybody out there have any idea whether the percentage of lifetime medical costs incurred in the last three months of life has changed in the past 50 years?

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