I could not disagree more with William McFauls historical analysis.
I think the $21 billion is underestimated because it is so tough to quantify the savings unless one is spinning in the middle of the technology spiral now going on. The answer is providing our medical professionals with means to help them render better quality and more efficient care. If you want to witness the dramatic changes over 12 months, come to Chicago in a week and look at just the digital-imaging segment at the Radiological Society of North America meeting. The offerings and discussions there pinpoint not only more-accurate, quicker, more-efficient ways of peering inside of patients to give the correct treatment the first time with less trauma, but do it quicker. Back in the mid-1990s, not only was the computer and Internet technology primitive compared with today, but our radiologists had to put up with images that would be laughable by todays standards.
So pretty soon when my wife is wheeled into the emergency room with a debilitating attack of pancreatitis, the triage doctor wont have to quiz this poor woman writhing on a gurney about her history and instead have images and notes in seconds that will help him take instant action to avoid a three-week $100,000 ICU stay. In the imaging side of medicine, we deal in showing subtle views that let us predict in time to prevent urgent care and even to cut 30 seconds from each exam so a facility can serve more patients with the same equipment and staff with much of it made possible by electronic PHRs. But in the extremeand true case mentionedour single expenditure has to be replicated only 210,000 times to save the $21 billion.
But if someone really wants to see some dramatic cost savings and patient outcome improvement, wait 12 months and a week until next years RSNA. But then, I could say that every year.
Tom MarinerVice presidentSoftware/IPQuantum Medical ImagingRonkonkoma, N.Y.To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title, company and hometown.
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