From The Editor | June 16, 2010

Cutting $3.6 Trillion In Healthcare Waste

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By Ken Congdon, editor in chief, Health IT Outcomes

A white paper released Monday by Thomson Reuters outlined several steps the U.S. healthcare industry could take to eliminate $3.6 trillion in wasteful spending over the next 10 years. Specifically, the report highlights five proven cost-cutting strategies, and claims the U.S. healthcare industry can eliminate waste by 5% annually by incorporating these best practices into the organizational structure. Over 10 years, this 5% annual savings would total $3.6 trillion. The five strategies outlined in the paper include:

1. Consumer Activism & Transparency This strategy focuses on educating and engaging the public on the importance of understanding and discussing the value and risks of specific treatment options with their caregivers. It aims to make patients better consumers of healthcare services, and strives to elevate individual interest and participation in healthcare decision-making. Obviously, technology can go a long way to facilitating communication between patients and their caregivers, particularly Internet technologies. We’ve recently published several articles and podcasts on Health IT Outcomes that speak to the value of web-enabling the healthcare industry much like the retail and financial industries. This includes providing patients with a venue to communicate with physicians via webcast, teleconference, or email. It also encompasses healthcare Internet services such as online appointment scheduling and personal health record (PHR) access. More on these technologies can be found in the following articles:

From Waiting Rooms To eVisits
Keys To A Successful EHR Implementation
Clearing Up The HIE Confusion
Telehealth Unites The Healthcare Ecosystem
Taking America’s Pulse On Mobile Healthcare

4. Patient Safety & Quality Improvement According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, adverse drug events (ADEs) result in more than 770,000 injuries and deaths per year and cost up to $5.6 million per hospital. This costs the U.S. healthcare system an estimated total of between $1.56 and $5.6 billion annually. This strategy focuses on eliminating ADEs and other healthcare treatment errors through local, regional, and national quality improvement initiatives. Several technologies, such as bar code and wireless medication administration solutions, can help support this step by ensuring the right patients receive the correct medications in the proper dosages. More information on the impact these systems can have on your healthcare facility can be found in the following articles:

Mobile Computers Help Minimize Medication Errors, Increase Patient Safety
Preventing Medical Identity Theft
Document Imaging Tames Healthcare Claims

A combination of technology and process will be necessary to ensure the $3.6 trillion in available savings reported by Thomson Reuters is realized and we at Health IT Outcomes are dedicated to providing you with the latest articles, white papers, and case studies to help you achieve this goal. To download a copy of the full Thomson Reuters white paper, visit