To reduce medication-related healthcare costs, turn to IT solutions

To make sure patients and doctors are on the same page in regard to medication use, healthcare providers may want to spend more on their IT systems.

It may seem a bit contradictory to save money by spending some. However, in the case of making sure that patients and doctors are on the same page in regard to taking prescribed medication as intended, healthcare providers may want to spend more on their IT systems.

According to a recent report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, using IT can improve medication use and save the healthcare industry globally close to $500 billion. The pharmaceutical aspect of healthcare is often a siloed component of treatment at many facilities, and using programs to bring that information into the main fold can dramatically decrease the amount of money that needs to be spent on future treatments.

“As our study makes clear, medicines – and the policies and practices that govern their use – are an essential and under-appreciated piece of the global healthcare puzzle,” Murray Aitken, IMS Institute’s executive director, said in an October statement. “Harnessing available information to set priorities, monitor progress and support behavior change among healthcare stakeholders – including policymakers, payers, clinicians, nurses, pharmacists and patients – is a vital first step. By framing the challenges and possible solutions, we want to trigger the realization that improvements are possible and that these levers can yield economic benefits as well as health improvements.”

Specific ways IT can improve healthcare
According to the study, one of the main ways in which data-driven initiatives can improve healthcare outcomes in relation to medication usage is through tracking, specifically using software to make not of a patient’s medication usage. For example, IT solutions can allow doctors to better monitor a patient’s medicine use, and that a person’s multiple prescriptions will not cause undue side effects.

The research also suggested that technology could minimize the creation of drug-resistant bacteria by tracking the timing of antibiotic dosages and reduce healthcare costs by checking for safe and effective generic treatments.

By using the latest technologies available to more efficiently monitor medication usage, healthcare professionals can avoid future issues down the line, Healthcare IT News reported. Often, it is more cost effective for healthcare providers to deal with an issue through a prescription-based regimen early on instead of relying on surgeries and other costly treatments when medical issues become more serious.

“It’s very important for all stakeholders concerned with this problem to be able to tackle particular parts without losing sight of the whole – and to not be discouraged by the complexity,” Harvey Fineberg, the Institute of Medicine’s president, said in a statement. “They should target particular solutions that are appropriate for their respective countries and settings, and work on those to drive improvements and long-term success.”

More IT means greater data compliance
Data analytics solutions have the potential to dramatically increase efficiency and the quality of patient care outcomes while lowering costs for healthcare providers. However, any new initiative will require a new set of layered security measures to adequately protect patient data and keep medical professionals in compliance with HIPAA and other governmental standards.

“In every technology innovation that comes out, security is always one of the top concerns, not just because of HIPAA, but because it’s the right thing to do,” said Brendan Rice, executive director of medical informatics and family practitioner for the Via Christi Clinic in Kansas, according to HispanicBusiness.com.

Healthcare providers considering implementing a data-driven medication IT solution should use encryption. Stephanie Kuhlmann, pediatric hospitalist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the KU School of Medicine-Wichita, told HispanicBusiness.com that encryption is an ideal tool to use as it can ensure sensitive medical data remains secure while not impeding the ability of healthcare providers to share information if need be.

What can healthcare providers do to make sure a patient’s medication record remains secure? Is application control enough to protect a hospital’s prescription database from being breached? Leave your comments below to let us know what you think!

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.