A Billion Dollar Idea

I remember watching my parents struggle with the myriad of appointments they had to set up for my grandparents. Primary Care on Monday, Cardiologist on Tuesday morning, Rheumatologist on Tuesday afternoon, Nephrologist on Wednesday, and then back to the Primary Care Physician on Thursday. It seemed like the week was just an ongoing cycle of appointments. It’s only now when I’m watching my own parents handle so many specialists that the real question arises in my mind. Are any of them talking to each other?

Today, JAMA Internal Medicinefile000303654817 revealed the findings of a study that found that even the slightest improvements in care coordination for seniors and communication between doctors could save over a billion dollars per year by reducing emergency room visits and hospital admissions.

Vital Signs has addressed it before, but it’s worth repeating. Chronic conditions are a major variable in improving the quality of care. More chronic conditions means more scattered medical information across multiple specialists and sub-specialists. To make matters worse, we are not seeing a decrease in the high number of misdiagnoses in America with studies indicating that  misdiagnoses happen in 15-28% of medical cases in the US, and that number particularly affects patients with multiple chronic conditions.

Being aware of the problem is part of it, and this JAMA study should go a long way in seeing to that. However, we should also be thinking about innovative solutions.

Every day, millions of people across industries communicate quickly and efficiently using technology, but it seems our health systems are falling behind. A recent New Yorker article addressed how so much of our health paradigm is behind the times, even when compared to processes that have so little impact on our lives. We need to implement systems whereby physicians can easily collaborate with one another. The technology exists; it just needs to become a part of the system. The results will not only save billions, they will save lives.

Archives by Month:

Archives by Subject: