Can Technology be the Answer to Controlling ER Costs?

In the last 10 years, the number of ERs in cities declined by 30% due to costs. Overuse and the uninsured are two primary reasons for the negative return of an ER. Since it’s not legal to turn away trauma patients, this can be a challenge for hospitals in a lot of urban areas. Overuse can be contributed to patients not being able to contact their primary care physicians. It is estimated that 46% of patients feel that their primary care physican could have treated them without going to the ER. This opens the door for an excellent opportunity.

I spoke with Dr. Ron Merrill, MD, chairman of the Department of Surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, about telehealth. He said, Telemedicine allows us to bring more information about a patients condition to the physician in real time no matter where they are, which will help with controlling costs. In comparison to almost everything, new technology has increased the costs of providing healthcare. Telemedicine is a major step in controlling cost and broadening patients access to healthcare.

To back this up, a recent study performed by Harvard Medical School projected savingsof $4.3 billion per year if hybrid systems were tobe implemented in patients homes, emergency rooms, prisons, nursing home facilities,and physician offices. So it seems as though, telehealth offers a pretty good return on your investment.

James Laskaris, EE, BME
ABOUT THIS EXPERT
James Laskaris, EE, BME, Emerging Technology Analyst — Mr. James Laskaris is a senior emerging technology analyst at MD Buyline and has been with the company since 1994. With over 30 years of experience in the healthcare field, Mr. Laskaris is the primary analyst of high-end OR technology. He also covers issues related to the legislative and reimbursement effect on healthcare and authors a bimonthly “Issues that Matter” publication. Mr. Laskaris received his biomedical engineering degree from Southern Illinois University. His work has been published in hfm Magazine, Radiology Manager and Healthcare Purchasing News.