September 18, 2013

What to Expect from the Intersection of Healthcare and IT

As can be seen from the graphical representation of the World Bank data below, healthcare expenditure per capita in the United States has steadily increased over the years. In 2011, U.S. healthcare spending per person shot up to $8,608 per year.

Health expenditure per capita (current US$)

Data from World Bank

Here is another statistic: An astounding $750 billion is being wasted annually on healthcare in the United States as per a report prepared by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). If you’re looking for some perspective on what $750 billion could buy you, see this infographic put together by PBS, a 3Pillar client.

So, where are there opportunities to improve the health care system and clean up some of the waste that leads to such drastic inefficiencies? Here are some of the biggest drivers to this significantly increased outlay for healthcare:

Absence of integrated healthcare records – There is an urgent need to tightly integrate healthcare records across the entire population base. Digitization of medical information will help gather invaluable insights on identifying the right treatment outcomes, thereby reducing costs.

Duplicate test procedures – Fewer (read: unnecessary) diagnostic tests can cut down medical expenditures to a large degree. Electronic Health Records (EHR) of a patient can eliminate the need for repetitive tests and associated costs.

Reluctance to embrace mobile health technology – A smartphone or a tablet in the hands of a caregiver can help them respond to remote medical emergencies in a better manner. They can reference a medical journal and make informed decisions. From a patient’s perspective, custom mobile applications have introduced the concept of ‘care anywhere,’ where they can monitor their daily health without having to visit hospitals on a regular basis.

Lack of healthcare analytics – Today, big data integration has opened up limitless possibilities in which we collect and interpret large sets of information. Though a slow starter, the healthcare industry is now increasingly relying on data-driven decisions to improve the quality of care. Here is a video of Nicolaus Henke, a Director at McKinsey, discussing how data analytics is bringing a paradigm shift to the field of medicine and what the future of medicine will hold.



Privacy concerns, which were once considered among the biggest stumbling blocks in the way of a complete intersection of healthcare and IT, are slowly fading into oblivion. An effective deterrent against privacy violations has been the modified provisions of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Enforcement and Breach Notification Rules under the HITECH act, which have taken aim at making the privacy rights of a patient kept supreme.

The University of Illinois-Chicago has put together an interesting infographic on The Intersection of Healthcare & IT that provides an interesting look at what they call “Health Informatics.”

What do you think can prevent a full-scale intersection of Healthcare and IT in the times to come? Leave your comments below.