When taken as a whole, the healthcare industry in the United States is easily the single largest sector of the economy. Each year, the government alone spends more than $1.5 trillion on healthcare programs. Yet, this huge sector has also proven to be one of the least efficient, with free-market principles often being subordinated to political concerns, entrenched interests and flat-out monopoly pricing power.
Evergreen Healthcare Partners seeks real change
This uncompetitive nature of the healthcare industry has led to considerable stagnation in innovation and development of potentially life-saving technologies. Drew Madden is the CEO and founder of Evergreen Healthcare Partners, one of the fastest-growing healthcare IT consulting firms in the United States. He has dedicated his more than 15-year career to understanding and solving some of the toughest issues within the healthcare field.
Madden explains that one of the things that could potentially halve healthcare costs in the U.S. is the readier adoption and adaptation of technology. Madden says that over the last five decades, the healthcare field has been almost luddite in its technological backwardness.
He points to the barcode as a prime example of the unconscionable snail’s pace that the medical establishment sets for the adoption of critical technologies. By the late 1970s, most grocery stores throughout the United States had already adopted the UPC code as the chief means by which pricing and inventory were effected. By the mid-1980s, UPC barcoding technology was used by virtually every major grocery chain in the United States as well as throughout almost all sectors of the retail establishment.
At the same time, life-saving barcoding technology that allowed for nearly error-free dispensation of drugs at the patient’s bedside is still not yet fully adopted by hospital networks across the country. Madden says that this technology is no more expensive than the inventory management systems of a typical grocery store. What’s more, it is a proven means of saving lives and reducing malpractice claims. Yet, the establishment still has not universally adopted it.
Madden says that these things are due to a simple lack of competition. If hospitals are not forced by free-market competition to spend the initial investment, they won’t, he says.