by Ryuichi Matsushita
Healthcare has come a long way but is considered by some to be the last industry to accelerate with technology. In other industries, technology has been able to reduce costs, increase efficiency, change entire business models and give birth to new strategies. This gives rise to a new question, why are healthcare costs going up? According to the LA times article A sick rise in health costs, Sep 20, 2016, the overall price of medical treatment increased by 1% in August (highest since 1984) and 1.7% increase in hospital services, the highest since October 2015. This hike goes across the board all the way from prescription meds to out of pocket expenses by Americans and increased monthly premiums.
What’s going on here? Is the medical industry so different than other industries that advancement in technology for one industry means cheaper and better whereas advancement in healthcare technology means more expensive? According to the Henry J. Kaiser family foundation article written in 2007 titled Snapshots: How Changes in Medical Technology Affect Health Care Costs, there are many complicated factors that contribute to increased healthcare costs related to technology advancement. One factor would be the impact on the cost of treatment to an individual; does it replace, substitute, or completely change existing treatment? A second factor would be the level of use the said new technology achieves? This can impact both the type and amount of healthcare an individual uses in their lifetime.
So what is the answer? What solution do we have? If there were a solid solution, I can almost promise that the company or person would be right up there in popularity with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and we would be hearing about them in the media. Take for example Elizabeth Holmes. Despite her company undergoing criminal investigation, if her technology for blood testing was actually a success, imagine what that would have meant for healthcare. Unfortunately it would have turned over an entire sub-industry in healthcare, but it would have made an impact in this industry as any other new technology has done in other industries, making it cheaper, better and faster to an extent. Unfortunately we haven’t gotten there yet.
Don’t be too discouraged; it’s not all bleak. Today, healthcare has embraced the entrepreneur and their contagious ambiance for innovation. I imagine it is only a matter of time before the Steve Jobs of healthcare surfaces to spin the industry around. Until then, we can only watch the trends of mainstream healthcare moving into telemedicine, augmented reality, home health, robotics and the do-it-yourself healthcare with smart phones, health bands and eclothing. But then again, with all this new innovative technology, why stand in the sidelines and watch?
Ryuichi Matsushita worked as an LVN/LPN in SNF, Home Health, hospice and military healthcare sector. He is currently a student at CSULA graduating in December 2016 with a dual major in Business Administration with a focus in Entrepreneurship and Computer Information Systems with a focus in information systems. Ryuichi currently works on a healthcare startup that is focused on nurse staffing.
The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.