The affordability of healthcare coupled with patient safety is a common subject of debate. Healthcare is the largest segment of the American economy at over $2 trillion per year. With a growth rate 2.5% faster than that of GDP, it is also the fastest growing segment of the economy. Within healthcare, the growth in Radiology expenditures exceeds all other areas.
Today’s healthcare marketplace dynamics are comprised of the interaction between providers (hospitals), caregivers (doctors and clinics), payers (insurance companies), and of course the consumers (patients). In North America, Europe, and some parts of Asia the healthcare enterprise is being “virtualized”. That is to say, many services that were once performed in the hospital are now being performed outside of the hospital. Similarly, resources that were once found in the hospital are now outside the hospital. When a patient has x-rays, blood tests, or stress tests conducted, he or she most likely no longer goes to the hospital, but rather to a facility that is “affiliated” with a hospital. This dynamic puts stress on all the players in the marketplace and fuels concerns about cost and patient safety.
The ability to share medical information between “affiliated” institutions is limited, and between “non-affiliated” institutions almost impossible without relying on the patient to gather all their information and present it to the point of need. This adds cost to the system, with more than 30% of the tests and procedures deemed to be redundant or unnecessary each year. At the same time it affects patient safety if the patient is routinely submitted to redundant or unnecessary exams.
The Compressus MEDxConnect solution allows for both medical images and reports to be shared in almost real time within and between healthcare enterprises, whether or not they are affiliated.
The Provider View: The hospitals are challenged to attract “state of the art” caregivers to their hospitals so as to attract more patients and provide better care. For example large hospital groups today own and operate numerous hospitals freestanding surgery centers in multiple states and internationally. These organizations are trying to better manage and support the large number of radiologists that are associated with their hospitals and centers. By using the MEDxConnect solution which facilitates the distribution of medical images and reports, these hospital groups could share radiology specialty resources between markets in a timely fashion and reduce the cost of incremental outsourcing of services on a local basis. This also means that the talents of a neuro-radiologist or other specialist can be accessed and maximized regardless of where they are physically located.
The Caregiver View: There is tremendous pressure on the radiologist to become more efficient. This is driven by government actions to reduce reimbursements to physicians for services, the relatively flat or declining number of radiologists, and the increasing demand for services from an aging population of “baby boomers”. Radiologists are contracted to support multiple provider organizations which use information systems that cannot communicate with one another, often requiring the radiologist to travel to multiple sites or log onto multiple systems. MEDxConnect allows practitioners to log onto a single system, regardless of their location, and to conduct their specialized radiological reads. MEDxConnect also facilitates the large-scale merger and acquisition activity that is at play between radiology groups by allowing them to seamlessly connect their medical information systems. It is interesting to note that only a few years ago, the American College of Radiology characterized a “medium sized” radiology practice to have 20 doctors, while today it would have almost 40 radiologists with no appreciable increase in the total number of practitioners worldwide.
The Payer View: Insurance companies are currently dealing with the fact that more than 30% of the procedures conducted may be unnecessary or redundant and therefore inflate reimbursement costs. MEDxConnect can provide payers with the visibility necessary to help determine in advance whether or not certain procedures are necessary.
The Consumer View: Consumerism is in its infancy in healthcare, but the likes of Medweb, Google Health, Revolution Health, Microsoft’s Health Vault, and other websites are empowering the patient with more information about healthcare. These sites offer the promise of an electronic medical record where an individual’s personal health information is available with both security and ubiquity. MEDxConnect offers the ability for these sites to access and index medical images and reports so that the information automatically populates the respective electronic health records and remains up to date, allowing consumers to monitor their health with tremendous cost savings and improved care.