Health IT, telehealth could save financial crisis of U.S. healthcare

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Healthcare technologies and telehealth are the only plausible solutions to overcoming the future financial healthcare crisis due to the aging population in the United States, which may peak by 2020, according to John Hansmann of Intermountain Healthcare, a keynote speaker at the 2008 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) meeting held in Orlando this week.

Hansmann, regional manager of management engineering at Intermountain and HIMSS board member, also pointed to the rise in uninsured patients (53 million by 2020), a shortage of physicians (anywhere from 24,000 to 200,000 by 2020), and the exhaustion of Medicare by 2020 as contributing factors to an overall financial crisis.

While the population is aging, it is not reproducing at the same rates, which will have two effects, Hansmann told Cardiovascular Business News.

“In the future, there will be fewer people to pass on their knowledge of the [healthcare] workforce, which will produce a brain drain. Also, we won’t have anyone to take care of that population. So, we will need to get much more creative, which is where medical technologies and telehealth come into play,” he said.  

Consumerism, genomics, regenerative medicine and information technology will have the greatest impact on future healthcare. The interoperability issue will be forced by the consumer, according to Hansmann.

He said that current technologies will continue to evolve and be integrated in the medical industry, such as cell phones, Ipods, PDAs/mobile computing, barcodes, RFIDs, blogs, EMRs and embedded microprocessor technology for hospital and home use.

He concluded that information technology is critical in enabling healthcare issues to be resolved, recognizing the relationship between IT and improving patient safety and restoring public trust.