Disease Management Programs (DMPs) are dedicated to creating a health system designed to save both lives and money. I believe that with all the modern technologies we have, we can help people live longer, better lives with less need for hospital stays. People would be healthier, and it is less expensive because good health is the least expensive healthcare you can have. Pharmaceutical firms and healthcare providers (read hospitals) should actively look at redesigning the whole system to make it possible for people to live the longest life possible – living independently and being active and healthy as they age.
The Institute of Medicine estimates that nearly 8,000 Americans are killed every year from medication errors. Another 44,000 to 98,000 are killed each year from hospital errors. The Institute of Medicine argues that electronic health records are essential in reducing these kinds of errors and saving lives. Think of your automatic teller machine card: You punch in a four-number code, and worldwide it finds your bank, your account and verifies who you are. We need that kind of technology in health, so wherever you are, you’re able to get care immediately with accurate information. And if you have a chronic condition like diabetes, heart disease, asthma or arthritis, we want you to have a record you can pull up on a screen so you can see what you need to be doing, whether or not you’ve been doing it correctly, and what your problems are in managing your own health.
Probably 30 percent of US hospitals have made significant investments in this health information technology. Only 10 to 15 percent of physicians have done so. In India, the number is virtually non-existent. While there are hospitals who have begun to see value in doing so, very few of these records are accessible to patients to take opinions outside of that hospital. In the US, it’s growing in part because that part of the world – virtually every sector of society – has embraced technology. It’s part of their culture. Why isn’t it a part of ours? India is a key player in the global technology arena. In India, nearly everybody you know has a cell phone with a camera. Many of them have BlackBerrys or some similar device. Most of them have laptop computers. We’re moving into a world where to not have this kind electronic information would be like having a hospital that still had a horse and buggy for an ambulance. Unfortunately, this is true of urban India which comprises approximately 30% of India’s more than 1 billion people. The more unfortunate part is that even urban India has not embraced this simple yet potentially life saving healthcare initiative.
The biggest challenge we face is surfacing price and quality information so that every urban Indian has access to that information before making healthcare decisions. You can’t have true consumer empowerment or a functioning marketplace without information on price and performance. We’re talking about the use of information so that you know what the best practices are, so that you’re able to find new scientific breakthroughs and new information, and so that you can help people manage their own lives. Say you have cardiovascular disease or diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis: you’re going to have to manage yourself for the rest of your life. And to the degree that we can give you tools that help you, you can make a dramatic improvement.
Historically, healthcare has been a hidden industry. Nobody likes to think of a hospital or a doctor. It reminds them of the days when they were sick. Nobody likes to seek information on diseases. It isnt considered a good thing to do in Indian tradition!! But if you think of the airline industry, you can go to a website and get information about times, prices, seats, you name it. Over the next five to eight years, we must see that kind of migration in health. It’s already taking place in the west. Imagine a healthcare provider group that operates a Web site, in which every hospital in the city/state/region/country lists its prices, quality information and the frequency with which it performs certain procedures. And then there’s a link where you enter a PIN code and the medicine you want to buy, and it will give you a list of every local drugstore arranged from least expensive to most expensive. It’s bound to have a profound impact on consumers.
Its time we began to think of the sick as consumers and not as patients. A paradigm shift in thinking will likely cause a paradigm shift in products and services offered! The Apollo Group is probably the only healthcare provider group that thinks of such services as being important.