IT to play role in slashing health care costs

The United States spent US$1.6 trillion on health care in 2002, according to new statistics from the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), up 9.3 per cent from the year before. Health care now consumes almost 15 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, the world’s largest outlay.

The record spending in 2002 followed a then-record year in 2001, when health care spending rose 8.5 per cent.

Information technology is likely to play a variety of roles in future efforts to stem that rapid growth, according to Eric Brown, an analyst at Forrester Research. IT is likely to be increasingly used to help deliver health care more efficiently, Brown said, though he warned that technology alone won’t reverse the ever-increasing health care spending – a trend driven by increasing numbers of older Americans.

“Health care technology will do a valiant effort to mitigate some of those costs,” Brown said. “But that ability to offset some of those costs is pushing against an almost unbelievable force of a demographic shift. Technology is no match for that.”