Diagnosis: Rising Healthcare Costs

Disruptive technologies may just be what the doctor ordered.

“Patients, people do not change until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of changing.” — Steve Berkowitz, SMB Health Consulting

The pain of change.

It’s a life lesson we’ve all learned at some point. But where is the healthcare industry feeling the pain?  At the recent NG Healthcare Payers Summit, SMB Health Consulting Founder and President Steve Berkowitz shared this perspective.

“One of the things we painfully learned in clinical medicine is once the bad thing happens, now the patient is motivated to do something. Now he wants to take his blood pressure meds. Now we wants to control his blood pressure,” said Berkowitz. “We have a blood pressure in healthcare, and it’s called healthcare costs. It’s going up and up and up, and it’s clinically silent. There are no symptoms.”

In patient care, the biggest challenge is making the necessary interventions before a life-threatening event like a stroke or heart attack occurs. Berkowitz warns that the same is true of the industry.

“Healthcare costs are not going to continue like that indefinitely,” said Berkowitz. “We know it, and that is going to be our challenge. And what it is going to require us to do is think outside the box for a little bit.

Disruptive technologies may be the answer.

“We have a blood pressure in healthcare, and it’s called healthcare costs.”

Since the professional labor of physicians is the single more expensive factor in patient care, healthcare costs will continue to grow with their wages. And as our population ages, demand for their services will likewise increase.

One possible answer: creating a healthcare system that uses expert care more efficiently, including virtual health solutions for gathering patient data prior to the office visit. A pilot program in Scotland has even used virtual care in the ER to assess patients with remote diagnostic equipment, and has not seen any change in patient satisfaction scores.

Digital technologies placed in the hands of consumers can also potentially help drive healthcare costs down. In an analysis conducted by Accenture, an average of five minutes was saved per physician encounter when diabetes patients’ self-care was technology-enabled. That translates into savings of $63 million annually.

That’s one potential change that is virtually pain free.


If you’re interested in attending or learning more about the 2017 NG Healthcare Payers Summit, visit the summit website for details.

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