IT will be ‘key factor’ for healthcare transformation
Posted: Apr 15, 2010
Ninety percent of U.S. healthcare leaders and 84 percent of global healthcare leaders recently surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) believe information technology will be a “key factor” for changes in healthcare in the near future and over the coming decade.

In a new “HealthCast” report released Tuesday by PwC’s Health Research Institute, researchers said the use of technology to improve access to healthcare “will finally become reality over the next 10 years.” This will include the use of smart phones, telemedicine, remote medical monitoring, online consultations and educational health chat rooms, they said.

PwC’s report was based on the analysis of the influence of consumerism, genomics and the Internet on healthcare and a survey of 590 leaders of health plans, providers, government, employers, physician groups and pharmaceutical and life science firms in 20 countries. The research included more than 200 in-depth interviews in 25 countries with thought leaders and executives representing government, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, clinicians, academics and the business community, according to PwC.

Researchers concluded that healthcare jobs will be in high demand, including new positions such as healthcare navigators, health educators and care coordinators. There will also be an increasing need for primary care physicians, nurses and physicians assistants, the study showed.

“From a business/economic perspective, PwC is extremely bullish on prospects for dramatic improvements in healthcare,” according to a PwC spokeswoman. “The healthcare system is really getting ‘wired up’ and will provide major cost savings in the very near term.”

Healthcare savings will come from a greater focus on patient involvement in care, the study said.

There are provisions included in the new healthcare reform laws that will increase emphasis on prevention, positive health outcomes, better coordination of care and comparative effectiveness research that includes personalized medicine, researchers said. The new legislation “will pave the way for a new era of individualized care.”

Kelly A. Barnes, health industries leader at PwC said, “If patients are not engaged, it is impossible to adequately manage care, consumption and spending.”

“The overarching challenge for our health system will be to shift the internal focus from the siloed bureaucratic healthcare infrastructure that exists today to one that puts patients at the center of care and engages them to take charge of their health over their entire lifetime,” Barnes said.

The PwC survey found most health leaders believe greater awareness and education will be a key way to lead people to take responsibility for their health.

The survey also found that 58 percent of U.S. health leaders and 45 percent of global health leaders expect personalized medicine to be “an important and growing development” that will change healthcare delivery.

Diagnostic tests based on human genome research will become commonplace, researchers said. This will lead to the targeted use of medicines based on a patient’s DNA, thus cutting costs on wasted drugs and unwanted side effects in patients for whom those drugs are ineffective, the study said.

Researchers also forecasted there will be a transformation in how doctors are paid, away from the current volume-based system to one that is outcome-based. Federal efforts are already under way to effect such a change, with all of them involving the use of healthcare IT to collect data and compare care methods.

Source: Healthcare IT News

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