Getting control of the rising cost of health care is a societal imperative, with innovation and technology being key to any solution.
But it is important to understand that while technology is going to produce many of the most important innovations in the medical field, it is as likely to be the simplest technology that yields the most benefits.
Take, for example, the recent announcement by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Coastal Medical of a new, shared-savings contract that creates incentives for Coastal to have its patients be healthier (and thus use fewer health care services).
One piece of the mechanism for improving the health of its patients is to afford them seven-day-a-week, 365-days-a-year access to Coastal resources, a service that will work best through the thorough integration of electronic medical records and patient access, as well as a commitment to communication.
And in the end, that commitment to using technology to support communication may be the most important step we can take to control runaway health care costs. •