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Which comes first –patient care or the cost?

September 26, 2011

More and more we see a shift in the healthcare landscape as another election year quickly approaches. It is even more important now to understand the implications of looming budget cuts for health programs and how they will affect healthcare and access to care for patients. An interesting article from this week’s The New York Times that presents this very issue. The article, In Cuts to Health Programs, Experts See Difficult Task in Protecting Patients discusses that as funding becomes more scarce, healthcare providers will need to coordinate care more efficiently and effectively.

There is a pressure for increasing healthcare for all, but at the same time there is a decreasing supply as fewer doctors will actively take on Medicare patients. Ultimately, the patients will lose. Services that are not profitable will close, and care options narrow.  Additionally as these cuts continue, hospitals and physicians will have to become more cost conscious. We see that costs continue to take center stage, and the hitches of cost and quality are connected.

This tug of war is getting bitter – but it should not limit us from seeing the larger picture in the evolution of healthcare. Emerging technologies with emphasis on clinical decision support can be folded into the equation to help care providers do more – and better – with their increasingly constrained resources. These tools provide meaningful, data-driven, personalized patient alerts to inform care processes. Evidence-based recommendations
at the point of care will help physicians, clinicians and caregivers treat patients more effectively the first time and reduce the need for repeat visits
or errors in the treatment process.

This cuts down on costs associated with repeat visits or errors, but more importantly provides the care that each and every person rightfully deserves from our healthcare system. Now is the time for medical decision-makers to align with clinical decision support tools that help to reduce the costs associated with healthcare.

By Fauzia Khan, MD, FCAP

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