November 12, 2009 11:59 ET

Technology Remedy for Ailing Healthcare System

IVANS' Survey Indicates Providers Will Make Better Use of Technology to Offset Changes to Healthcare

STAMFORD, CT--(Marketwire - November 12, 2009) - A recent poll of healthcare providers indicates that as the country moves through healthcare reform and defining "meaningful use," providers plan to make better use of healthcare information technology when it comes to their everyday practices.

"More than 30 percent of those we surveyed indicated that they would make better use of technology to help offset the impact of proposed Medicare payment cuts on their business," said Clare DeNicola, CEO, IVANS. "Many of them are already tightening their belts because of the current economy. From their perspective, technology is not simply a way to cut costs but, more importantly, to increase efficiencies to maintain the quality of care to their patients."

IVANS, Inc, an information technology services company, asked healthcare providers to weigh in on issues tied to healthcare reform, including the role of technology in their practice, proposed Medicare cutbacks and what they are doing to prepare themselves for potential changes. The web-based survey to which more than 200 providers responded was conducted in October 2009, following on the heels of the Congressional Budget Office's accounting of cost reductions contained within the U.S. Senate Finance Committee's proposed healthcare bill.

The healthcare reform bill recently passed by the House also has provisions that will cut Medicare funding substantially over the upcoming years. For the facilities and providers who focus on elder care, including the long-term and chronic care segment of the healthcare population, these cuts will have a deep and considerable impact on their business and the decisions they make when it comes to their patients.

Additional ways survey respondents said they would deal with payment cutbacks included the following:

--  One quarter said they will provide additional and new training for
    staff members, while
--  Another quarter said they would not do anything to prepare their
    practice/staff to offset cuts. While the reasons are not fully clear, it
    could be speculated that many providers are at an impasse when it comes to
    making changes to their day-to-day operations, as they cannot predict what
    the future holds.

A recent report by Thomson Reuters indicated that the US Healthcare system wastes approximately $700 billion annually, pointing to administrative inefficiency and redundant paperwork for as much as 18 percent of this waste.

To this, DeNicola commented, "One prescription for our nation's healthcare deficit is the implementation of technology and making better use of what's presently available. By using information technology, or IT, providers can lower the cost and improve the quality of healthcare overall."

"Many facilities still operate with older technology infrastructures," she continued. "By upgrading these infrastructures and operating systems, they likely will experience immediate benefits, from faster claims processing and access to online applications such as patient insurance verification." Over time, DeNicola explained, these improvements also better position healthcare care facilities to add efficiencies, including e-prescribing, home monitoring and the exchange of important patient information.

A key player in helping providers comply with Medicare Contracting Reform, part of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, IVANS has been heavily involved in the modernization efforts of Medicare. To generate similar efficiencies across the healthcare industry as a whole, IVANS encourages healthcare providers to implement more current technologies now, such as high-speed networks, to support faster claims processing and information sharing in the near term, while preparing to handle the more data-intensive applications (such as Electronic Health Records) that will be required in the future.

The survey is part of IVANS' continuing efforts to address the needs of healthcare providers nationwide and encourage a dialogue between professionals about how the current healthcare environment is impacting their daily business and what tools they can use to navigate the ever-changing system.

For more information, including complete survey questions and answers, please contact Ellen Werther @ 212 980 4499/

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