Health Care Costs and Medical Records Technology

With the news of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System plans to offer its 7,000 affiliated doctors subsidies of up to $40,000 each over five years to adopt digital patient records. That would be in addition to federal support for computerizing patient records, which can total $44,000 per doctor over five years.

The competitive advantage from computerized medical records has been analyzed and is expected to shave millions from not only the outrageous administrative costs that have literally blown up health care costs, but also make patient care more effective. By being able to track physician and hospital care it will be easier to find out which specific treatment for diabetes for example are the best. The trick is to get the physicians to play ball.

I have two surgeons in my family, and I have talked extensively to them about health care costs, and Dr. Gabriel Loor who is just finishing up his residency has said that two surgeons can perform the same procedure, such as an appendectomy and due to their specific style of suture can literally cause a difference of thousands dollars for the same procedure.

Another facet of health insurance care costs that is difficult to quantify would of course be the fact that when an ER patient comes in with a broken leg for example, the extra tests that are run can end up showing hundreds of minor acute issues that might be serious or might be benign. Think about the body scan, which shows thousands of masses and without spending thousands of dollars in biopsies and assorted other medical tests there is no way to give someone a complete clean bill of health. A physical, a true physical anyways would literally cost thousands of dollars minimally, and much more in actuality.

Thus when someone comes in to a medical facility for a routine surgery or test it is up to the physician to investigate the results of the tests, and then to order more tests until they can honestly offer a complete healthy diagnosis. Many physicians, surgeons especially will tell you that they can’t do this, as there is not only a financial issue to consider both to the patient and the insurance company, but of course to the medical facility or hospital which loses time for other patients who are most likely exhibiting symptoms.

The medical technology issue will certainly save money as it will give the medical establishment the ability to pull up the medical records and test results the patient has already run. Duplication is of course a major cost factor in medical costs as well. However, it can be safely said that electronic medical records will certainly help medical care costs be kept in check. Will it solve our problems? Not really, as health care costs and health insurance premiums are rising so quickly that it will take more than one solution to control them. After medical records technology, we will need to work on getting more people insured as that is another cost factor.

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