Technological advances in healthcare have been touted as game-changers: advanced equipment for better results and faster care. For every updated practice that truly improves efficiency and lowers cost, however, there are a handful of other developments that simply raise the cost to patients without creating better solutions.
Unfortunately, inefficient and expensive advances have created new revenue streams by complicating the care process for patients and making more follow-up appointments necessary. On top of that, many healthcare systems pass on the cost of large equipment to their patients by raising the cost of different procedures.
All of that could change as the economics of healthcare change. New technologies such as exam adapters for mobile devices and 3D printing are already in production and may be the new wave of efficient and low-cost patient care, but in order to embrace these technologies and remain relevant in a value market hospitals and health care systems will need to completely transform the way they do business.
In hospital fee structures that move away from the traditional fee-for-service format, for example, practitioners will have to shift their focus to doing what works best to treat a patient rather than doing what they can bill more for. Moreover, the entire infrastructure of care must be adapted to incorporate new technologies so they are not only accessible but also secure and compliant with federal privacy regulations.
That said, if hospitals and medical groups choose to move toward integrated technology they have the potential to make healthcare not only less expensive in the long run, but truly better.
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