The Higher Cost Limited Value Proposition of Healthcare IT

This is a topic I’ve written about before, but it keeps coming back on my radar over and over again. Plus, it’s a fundamental problem that we most overcome in healthcare. Far too many of the innovations in healthcare are around how to get the highest quality of care regardless of the cost.

Think about all of the really expensive treatments in healthcare are barely better than a much less expensive treatment. Plus, in most industries we find ways to make something that was really expensive much cheaper. Computers are a great example of this. At first they only had super expensive computers that only a few organizations could buy. In fact, Tom Watson, then IBM chairman, famously said in 1958, “I think there is a world market for about five computers.” The reason that wasn’t a far fetched statement at the time was that computers were so expensive that there were only 5 organizations that could afford them. What changed? Computers became so inexpensive that now we see them everywhere. If you consider a cell phone a computer (which is a pretty close comparison today), then more people have computers than clean drinking water.

Now think about that when we think about technology in healthcare. Why aren’t we seeing the drastic price drop in various technologies that are used in healthcare?

In fact, healthcare is interesting because in some cases the price for healthcare IT actually goes up rather than down. Sadly, I don’t know why this is the case and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.