Someone recently pointed out to me the irony of healthcare’s history investing in technology. Plus, they pointed out an interesting shift in healthcare IT investment that I think’s worth pointing out and discussing further.
If you look at many of the healthcare technology investments of the past they often were in very expensive equipment. Think about the huge robots or other medical devices with enormous price tags. These machines were often miracle workers in what they could accomplish, but in order to have that miracle it usually came with a really hefty price. I’m not sure all the rationale for buying these huge expensive machines, but they would make these purchases over and over. This type of spending led healthcare technology investment to spend huge amounts of money trying to create the next technology that would get hospitals to spend large amounts of money on a huge device.
The unfortunate thing for healthcare was that while this new technology could improve the quality of care provided it cam at an enormous cost. I know that I and many others mostly throw cost out the window when we’re talking about our health. We want the best treatment possible no matter the price.
The interesting thing is that a new breed of healthcare IT investment is happening. There’s a shift to investing in software and devices that instead of increasing the cost of healthcare strive to actually lower the costs of healthcare. While certainly many would argue on whether EHR software lowers the costs of healthcare, that’s the intent. I think that long term we’ll see the cost savings of EHR software and the software that gets built on the backs of EHR software will lower costs.
I’m sure there are a lot more examples that illustrate both sides of this. Plus, there are likely some exceptions to the above analysis as well. Although, I do think this is a trend that’s important and will serve healthcare very well.