Wed Feb 21st, 2007 at 01:14:03 PM EST
I've been stuck in my office working for the last couple of months. But a couple of articles that I read recently motivate me to write a short diary on healthcare. These trends are very clear in the US, but I believe will carry over to Western Europe and Japan, other developed countries as well.
- We are in the midst of an explosion of innovation that will lead to better treatment of diseases--some of the breakthroughs are fabulous, and I'll just highlight one that I read, but the list is incredible.
- For a lot of reasons healthcare has been slow to change in adopting new productivity tools that are used in other industries. But some of those tools are being specifically tailored to healthcare, and will allow more productivity, and have impact on both the quality of care and the cost.
- As the demographics lead to a much older population in the western world, society will choose to spend far more of its growing wealth on life enhancing and life saving products,,,,,,as opposed to, say, more video games.
Here is one of the new technologies
"The new robotic catheter system has the potential to fundamentally change the way electrophysiology procedures are performed worldwide and make it possible for a broader group of physicians to perform complex cardiac procedures such as cardiac arrhythmia mapping," said Wyn Davies, M.D., FRCP, FHRS, consultant cardiologist, St. Mary's Hospital, London, and principal investigator of the clinical trial.
Currently, cardiac electrophysiology procedures are performed using a manual technique that requires physicians to perform a series of complex manipulations at one end of the catheter with inadequate assurance that the tip of the catheter will respond as desired while inside a patient's heart. As a result, achieving stable contact at every anatomic site within the heart necessary for successful mapping can be difficult. Insufficient contact between the catheter tip and the inside of the heart wall can lead to highly variable and less than optimal procedure outcomes.
"There is a medical need for broader use of catheter-based procedures for diseases where catheters are rarely used today, and we believe our robotic platform will enable more physicians to perform complex interventional procedures through greater ease of use, and possibly improve patient outcomes," said Frederic Moll, M.D., founder and chief executive officer of Hansen Medical.
Here is the article I read today regarding an example of new technologies that can lower cost and at the same time improve patient care,
"Today technology comes to the aid of those who help others," said Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini. "This is a great example of putting innovative technology to work solving real needs."
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, one of the leading hospitals in the United States and a frontrunner in healthcare innovation, collaborated with Motion Computing on the C5's development.
The medical center is now conducting pilots to measure improvements in workflow and nursing satisfaction with regard to patient care.
UCSF chief medical information officer Michael Blum said Tuesday 's announcement represents a new kind of collaboration between hardware and software companies and end-users, such as UCSF, to bring a solution to the market that better meets the needs of nurses and doctors.
And here is the article which forecasts that American's will choose to allocate funding to these new products at a rate that will double the cost of healthcare over the next 10 years,
U.S. spending on prescription drugs, hospital care and other health services is expected to double to $4.1 trillion over the next decade, up from $2.1 trillion in 2006, a government report released on Wednesday found.
Lead author John Poisal told reporters a major factor was an aging population as the "leading edge of the baby boom generation becomes eligible for Medicare," the nation's insurance program for those age 65 and older.
Greater spending for prescription medications is expected to fuel much of the increase, Poisal and his team said, especially amid more aggressive treatment of diabetes, heart issues and conditions affecting the central nervous system.
At the same time, the report found the cost of drugs, devices and services such as doctors visits are expected to continue the rise, increasing out-of-pocket costs for those with private insurance.
While growth in spending on hospital and doctor care is seen slowing in 2006, the researchers expect that to change this year and continue to increase.
"Despite rising costs, consumers continue to purchase costly existing and new health care technologies," they wrote.
IMHO, today's US healthcare model will change. A more organized approach to giving access to a basic level of healthcare will be developed, along with other changes. However, I don't think the changes will take away the ability of American's to choose to buy the healthcare that they want. The model will allow the society as a whole to spend more on healthcare, but it will also allow individuals to choose the new technologies, and pay for them, if they desire.