Changing the healthcare equation
In recent decades, information technology (IT) has transformed business processes in almost every sector, making products and services more available, efficient and cost effective. Healthcare systems worldwide have yet to take full advantage of information technology. Systems for healthcare administration tend to be outdated, with manual processes for storing and updating patient records and different clinics or providers keeping duplicate records. Already strained by the increasing number of patients and escalating operational costs, healthcare budgets are further burdened by inefficient administration that diverts spending from treatment, reducing the availability and quality of care. The system’s inefficiencies are in sharp contrast to the cutting-edge technologies used to prevent, diagnose and treat illness.
These challenges will become more pronounced as expanding, aging populations increase demand for healthcare, and changing lifestyles make conditions such as diabetes and heart disease more prevalent. Information technology offers promising solutions.
It can help improve people’s health by increasing the quality and affordability of care and by advancing medical research. HP Enterprise Services has unrivalled experience in this area.
According to a Rand Corporation study, efficiencies gained through IT can reduce healthcare expenditures by between 10 and 15 percent in the United States. Technology can automate day-to-day processes and reduce the number and length of tasks required, cutting administration costs and freeing up money for patient care.
To ease the burden on strained healthcare organizations, HP offers technology services and solutions, including extensive business intelligence and decision support services. For example, HP is building a disease surveillance system for the State of Hawaii and providing extensive data management services to the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Managing and processing health insurance claims more efficiently also saves time and money and improves service, helping more people access treatment. HP is a leading provider of IT services for payer organizations, including the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, the U.S. federal Medicare program and U.S. Medicaid, the state health program for people with low incomes. Although partly funded by the federal government, each state administers Medicaid individually. HP works with 32 states, including 22 Medicaid programs; our systems handle about one billion claims and administer approximately $100 billion in benefits each year.
By making these administrative processes more efficient, HP systems make it easier to extend healthcare to those in need. In Arkansas, HP set up a system that helps women more easily access Arkansas BreastCare, a breast and cervical health program, by using an automated enrollment system to determine program eligibility instantly over the telephone. Enrollment has increased fourfold, and 17,000 uninsured and underinsured women have benefited from early detection and treatment.
IT can reduce mistakes by ensuring healthcare professionals receive the information they need to provide the best treatment. Electronic Medical Records (ERM) represent one solution. According to an Institute of Medicine report , medical errors cause up to 98,000 deaths each year in the United States. Replacing manual processes with electronic medical records and innovative uses of technology can increase access (through lower costs) and save lives.
As a leading technology provider for private and public health organizations, HP is currently setting new standards in efficiency by enabling electronic records, health information exchanges, wireless solutions and other innovations that improve both productivity and quality of care. Lowering data capture and entry costs, improving data quality, and increasing information sharing help healthcare providers better manage the overall health of patients.
Increasing patient safety in hospitals and ambulatory facilities relies heavily on capturing and analyzing raw data, and sharing that information alongside recommended solutions. In collaboration with other organizations, HP helps providers set up reporting systems capable of collecting information regarding serious events (those involving actual harm) and incidents (near misses). The findings from these reports can then be used to prevent future occurrences.
The HP Patient ID solution uses printer technology to produce ID wristbands that include bar codes, enabling healthcare professionals to review a patient’s vital information, including consent forms and lab results, while a nurse can connect instantly to the pharmacy system to verify a match between patients and their medication. Another HP technology application tracks the location and use of infusion pumps for administering fluids, ensuring the right pump is in the correct ward and allowing clinicians to spend less time managing equipment and more time with patients.
While these are just a few examples to demonstrate progress, HP’s broader vision is of fully connected digital hospitals, where integrated systems provide healthcare workers fast and secure access to all the information they need, when and where they need it. Such a system promises to increase productivity, make better use of medical equipment, shorten treatment times, and improve patient outcomes.
To help realize this vision, HP partners with leading global providers, including GE Healthcare and local organizations, to ensure the most effective delivery of solutions. In Norway, for example, we are working with local telecommunication company Telenor and others to bring the latest information technology to St. Olav’s Hospital. The new hospital runs on a converged IP network that delivers all data, voice and video services as well as provides interconnectivity with medical devices and building control systems, delivering the right information to the right people at the right time—wherever they are. Healthcare workers use handheld devices to access patient information and order medication and tests, and each bed is equipped with a computer screen that keeps patients informed.
In another case, a hospital hopes that by going digital it will become one of the most patient-oriented and cost-effective hospitals in Norway, expecting to reduce operating costs by at least 20 percent while enhancing service and treatment methods. HP is helping them become one of Europe’s technically most advanced hospitals by outfitting them with a high-performance digital network, security infrastructure, teleconference and video conference systems, as well as desktop computing and printing facilities.
IT is also helping to expand the boundaries of medical knowledge and treatment by aiding scientists in deepening their understanding of disease, how treatments work and how different patients respond. This knowledge will enable personalized healthcare, which will in turn improve clinical outcomes and cost effectiveness.
IT systems can capture and analyze complex data sets such as genetic sequences, and streamline how biological samples such as blood, urine and tissue are analyzed and recorded. This has helped the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas cut the time required to analyze data used in cancer treatment from 20 minutes to 20 seconds. Improving clinical trial data collection and analysis helps drug companies bring new medicines to market more quickly and benefit patients sooner.
HP recognizes that moving healthcare administration into the digital age also brings new challenges. Patient records must remain secure, and we support regulatory and industry measures to ensure this. Read more about HP’s approach to privacy in the essay Harnessing the Information Explosion and in the Privacy section of this report.
Modernizing healthcare systems is a high priority for healthcare organizations, governments and insurers, and IT offers the most effective way to get there. HP has made substantial progress in this area, but much more work remains. Health record management is more complex than many tasks that we routinely perform electronically, such as some basic financial transactions. The consequences of system failure are also exceptionally high. When properly implemented by an experienced provider, however, IT offers an extraordinary opportunity to dramatically improve the efficiency, quality and affordability of care, and create a healthier society.