The cost of healthcare has grown faster than the average income; while healthcare costs consumed only 4% of the average income in 1960, they consumed 7% of incomes in 2017. It’s no wonder that consumers, providers, and payers are searching for ways to cut costs.
Luckily, there are opportunities for reducing healthcare costs through technology. Four digital advancements stand out: telehealth services, IoT products, consumer engagement hubs, and modernized healthcare payment systems. What makes these developments so great? Keep reading to find out.
On-Demand Telehealth Services
Telehealth relies on communication devices like phones and computers to provide health-related services. While these services cannot replace emergency care or appointments that require injections or physical examinations, they can be used for minor medical needs.
Services via computer are far less expensive for patients; they cost around $45 per appointment, instead of $100 for an in-person visit or $160 for an urgent-care clinic visit. These teleappointments allow providers to determine whether a condition is serious enough for a visit, which saves money for patients and decongests office schedules.
Telehealth services also encourage continued engagement. This improves long-term patient outcomes and savings throughout the healthcare ecosystem. In fact, The Rural Broadband Association suggests that telehealth services could save the average U.S. medical facility $20,841 per year.
As smart objects saturate markets worldwide, healthcare organizations have begun to invest in smart medical products; these include devices such as fitness bands, insulin pumps, and PAP machines. These products are becoming so popular that Zion Market Research expects its market to balloon up to $66.7 billion by 2024.
One of the most obvious benefits of smart medical products is their ability to help provide close chronic care. For example, smart PAP machines allow a patient’s sleep apnea care team to download patient sleep information and adjust machine settings wirelessly based on that data. In many cases, patients can stay home for this kind of chronic care; they simply receive updates online and over the phone as care teams make adjustments.
For medical organizations with the data-driven framework to fully capitalize on smart medical devices, risk stratification will play a key role in lowering costs. Care teams can monitor patient data, searching for gradual changes that indicate the need for an in-person checkup. If abrupt changes in data are noticed, care teams can request preventative appointments — avoiding expensive emergency room visits.
These proactive activities will prevent unnecessary spending and increase the efficiency of value-based care programs.
Optimized Consumer Engagement Hubs
As the official Surgeon General website notes, there are many economic benefits to prevention; for example, every prevented HIV infection saves $355,000.
To increase patient participation in preventative programs, providers and payers must make their services streamlined and easy to access. Technology provides an opportunity for providers and payers attempting to bring their patients in for regular preventative care.
Consumer engagement hubs encourage healthcare organizations to keep in contact with patients through personalized care alerts, referral updates, appointment requests, and other customer-centric tools. With this level of accessibility, patients will begin to increase preventative care and lower costs for everyone in the healthcare ecosystem.
Updated Healthcare Payment Systems
The current healthcare payment system is unnecessarily expensive.
Yes, payers rack up costs to print and mail checks, but providers also feel the squeeze; they spend as much as $31 to process a single payment. This consumes a lot of manpower because the staff has to reconcile payments with electronic remittance files to determine whether a full payment for each claim was made. When payments are incorrect, staff members must identify these claims, confirm the errors with the payer, and resubmit payment requests. When this step is avoided due to time constraints, healthcare organizations miss chances for revenue and risk unbalanced books.
Updated healthcare payment systems eradicate these wasteful practices which provide easy-to-process payments and immediate transactions. Payments can now be made wirelessly in near real-time which slashes costs. The payments include full claims information which empowers teams to quickly determine what the payments are, whether they are made in full, and whether further actions are needed.
While there are many ways of reducing healthcare costs through technology, updating your payment system is a simple solution to get you started.
While most other methods, like telehealth services and consumer engagement hubs, take the full participation of three parties—patients, payers, and providers—healthcare payment systems only involve payers and providers, who can work together to implement the system, then together experience near-immediate benefits.
Interested in modernizing your healthcare organization’s payment system to cut costs? Learn more about our pilot program here. At AmplaPay, we believe healthcare payments should be low cost, fast, and secure.