Innovate to Improve Healthcare and Lower Costs

Recently, a family member went through surgery and I experienced the healthcare system in the U.S. The experience turned out well. In contrast, the costs of care billed to the insurance company were astronomical.

U.S. national health spending is estimated to have reached $3.6 trillion in 2018 and is projected to reach nearly $6 trillion by 2027 according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Department of Health and Human Services.

This led me to think about what can be done to deliver the world-class health services we benefit from while lowering the cost of care per patient.

Strains on Care Providers

During my annual checkups, I have seen firsthand the immense time pressure on primary care physicians who increasingly work for corporations. Physicians often struggle to balance the conflicting demands of providing the time to the individual to understand their concerns and meeting the revenue goals set by their management.

The primary care provider has a difficult time getting a single aggregated view of the patient because data is often spread across multiple care providers.

The challenge of managing administrative tasks, including mitigating the risks of malpractice lawsuits, is very time consuming. It requires a truly passionate physician and support team to ensure the care provider always keeps the best interests of the patient in mind. Despite the challenges, I am always impressed by how well the system functions and serves patients.

Empowering Patients and Care Providers

According to the PWC report on top health industry issues of 2019, pharmaceutical and medical device companies will offer new digital therapies and connected services to help patients change behavior. These services will offer providers real-time insights into patients and give employers and insurers improved tools to better manage employee health. Along the same lines, in rural America, CMS is advancing telehealth and telemedicine plans in order to make healthcare more accessible and affordable.

In my view, the first step is for each person to take charge of their own health. We owe it to ourselves to invest the time to take care of our physical and mental well-being. This includes staying in touch with the primary physician and completing the recommended physical examinations and associated follow ups. This helps ensure health problems can be detected and managed before they escalate into emergencies.

Primary care physicians and specialists need to have the latitude — with appropriate supervision — to perform at their best without the constant fear of malpractice lawsuits. They need to have incentives in place to provide guidance to patients to improve their health and live better lives.

Role of Innovative Solutions

Companies play an important role in enabling their employees to live better lives. Many leading organizations offer physical and mental well-being programs to their employees.

As an example, SAP offers its employees a program with Kurbo to enable employees to understand their food choices via a mobile app. The Kurbo program provides participants the guidance to make informed choices and move to healthier diets. This is a win for all sides.

At SAP, we are also partnering with leading life sciences and healthcare companies to deliver innovative solutions that can lead to better outcomes and help lower costs. Roche Diabetes Care worked with SAP to deliver Accu-Check view, an interactive app for patients to share information with healthcare providers. The information from glucose meters, scales, blood pressure monitors, and fitness trackers is delivered in real time to providers. As a result, care provider can deliver tailored advice and help prevent the onset of long-term complications.

Rakesh Shetty is vice president of Industries Marketing at SAP.