Healthcare Reform: How We Can Reduce Waste

by Adele Stewart

There are certain teaching moments that are hard to forget. One in particular stands out to me – the day that I passed out in the ER while observing an IV placement. Up until that point, I had been entertaining the idea of becoming a doctor. But after coming-to on the floor of the ER, receiving a Patient ID wristband and a $1000 bill, I became 100% certain of two things: that I didn’t have the stomach for med school, and that the healthcare system is wasteful.

This waste goes beyond unnecessary precautions in emergency departments.  An article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012, titled “Eliminating Waste in US Health Care,” outlined 6 major areas of waste in the healthcare system: overtreatment, failures of care coordination, failures in execution of care processes, administrative complexity, pricing failures, and fraud and abuse.  These sound like isolated problems that can only be fixed by government-mandated reforms or from the industry itself, but they are not! They are simply all symptoms of our terribly wasteful healthcare market that threatens our American way of life.

While there are changes that should be required of the healthcare system, regulations passed by Congress in the last 10 years have fallen short of creating any meaningful reduction of waste. As patients, and therefore as consumers of the healthcare system, there is something we can do that our government can’t. We can reduce this waste by shopping for healthcare like we do for other goods and services. 

Think about it like this: 25 years ago, how did people plan for a vacation? They had travel books and travel agents to guide them, but no way to truly shop around and compare their options in real time.  Now, websites that compile data from individual airlines, hotels and rental cars can show you quality ratings and prices, even recommend the optimal time to make your reservations at each!  With the power of technology by our side, why are we not demanding the same from the healthcare industry?

The Harvard Business Review published an article in October of last year stating, “the country could achieve an incremental $110 billion in savings” by “encourag(ing) consumers to be more sensitive to prices.”   We believe that this true reform needs to come from people like us, consumers, who use information to our advantage when making decisions about our healthcare. That’s why AxS Health is working to bring these changes today to patients who want to be informed and make the best decision possible.

Let’s shop around for healthcare services when the need arises, and reward providers who provide excellent care while being sensitive to costs.  Let’s ask providers to reduce administrative complexity and use technology to our advantage, not our detriment.  Let’s demand access to care, care that is priced fairly, transparently, and available to us when we need it.

The AxS Health App provides you with the power to choose and helps bring about a new era of healthcare. If we want change we can’t expect the industry to do it for us, we must step forward and do it ourselves.

Join us as we build the future of healthcare delivery.

The references to articles cited are below, in case you want to read for yourself:

Berwick DM. Eliminating Waste in US Health Care. JAMA : The Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012-04-11;307:1513.

Chigurupati, A, Cutler, DM, Kocher, B, Sahni, N. How the U.S. Can Reduce Waste in Health Care Spending by $1 Trillion. Harvard Business Review. 2015. Available at: https://hbr.org/2015/10/how-the-u-s-can-reduce-waste-in-health-care-spending-by-1-trillion. Accessed May 14, 2016.

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