Health Case Study
Embracing the opportunities that ICT offers to the healthcare industry could decrease costs, improve quality and access to healthcare services and decrease the carbon emissions associated with healthcare delivery.
1) Telemedicine gives patients access to specialists outside their geographic area.
2) Patients can search information online and engage in patient forums.
3) Doctors and other health professionals can disseminate training and information.
4) Patients can be monitored remotely to help them lead independent lives in their own homes, thus improving quality of life and reducing associated healthcare costs.
Economic benefits A 2008 study46
highlighted that each
year 2.2 million patients are transported to emergency rooms, incurring transportation costs of $1.39 billion. Telehealth technologies could avoid 850,000 of those trips, resulting in cost savings of $537 million a year. For example:
• Nursing homes – 387,000 emergency room trips could be avoided with a cost saving of $327 million.
• Physician office visits from nursing facilities – 6.87 million trips could be avoided with a cost saving of $479 million.46
The primary impact that ICT enabled healthcare can have on carbon emissions is through reduced travel to and between medical offices, clinics, and hospitals, as evidenced by the study above.
ICT enabled healthcare is especially important for those in rural communities who often have to drive long distances for health appointments or, in many cases, go without accessing care at all. A U.S. based healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente, set up microclinics in 2007. These clinics, staffed with just two doctors, can meet 80% of a typical patient’s needs. With a high definition videoconferencing connection members could link to a nearby hospital for a quick consult with a specialist. Patients would still need to travel to a full-size facility for major trauma, surgery, or access to expensive diagnostic equipment, but those are situations that arise less frequently.47
“Access to specialty care is limited in the rural areas because these communities do not have the necessary volume to employ a full- time [specialist] physician... patients must drive to major metropolitan areas to receive specialty care, or worse, remain untreated.”
Tina Capeder, Chief Outpatient Officer at Wright Memorial Hospital in Trenton, MO48
46. CITL, 2008. The Value of Provider to Provider Telehealth Technologies. Available from http://www.nextgenweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/center-for-information-technology-leadership-telehealth-beneftis-study.pdf
Last accessed June 16th, 2011.
47. Adapted from Perry, M. Blog 2009. Markets In Everything: Kaiser Microclinics At 50% of the Cost of a Full-Service Hospital. Available from http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2009/08/markets-in-everything-microclinics.html
Last accessed June 16th, 2011.
48. Normandin, S. 2008. Telemedicine, an international quality care solution. Patient and quality Healthcare.
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