The diagnosis is grim: the American healthcare system is suffering from an acute shortage of integrated health information networks. Technically, it’s more than a shortage: such networks simply don’t exist.
And that’s why the prognosis is equally unsettling. Even as the first state-run health insurance exchanges point to some brake on runaway healthcare costs, the health information network void means money, big money, misallocated and misspent. Consider:
The cloud represents powerful transformative technology that directly addresses both of these issues. Diagnosticians are finally acclimating themselves to robust yet affordable, web-based software platforms that enable them to easily and seamlessly share medical records with other physicians. These platforms also give them access to sophisticated new laboratory tests that help them recommend “personalized” treatment regimens for their cancer patients. A bona fide integrated network also ensures ”true” digital pathology, enabling pathologists to share electronic images of their patients’ tumor specimens with other network physicians for instantaneous second opinions and expert consultations.
A network needs to be designed as a turnkey online tool for busy practitioners, delivering on at least five prerequisites for cost-effective – and just plain effective – diagnostics:
As with so many things, for the healthcare cost debate, the devil is in the details. And healthcare marketers, absorbed as they may be in the big, systemic issues, might well have missed the issue highlighted in that final bullet. Recent developments in Medicare reimbursement underscore the urgency of finally delivering on the promise of digital pathology.
This year, pathologists are facing a 52% reduction in the technical component (TC) reimbursement for CPT code 88305 in the surgical pathology family, per the 2013 physician fee schedule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The takeaway? It’s more important than ever for diagnosticians to centralize/consolidate their cystology and digital imaging services.
According to Dr. Keith Kaplan, noted pathologist and blogger, it’s all about the 4Rs of pathology: “The right slide, the right patient, the right pathologist, the right time.”
With the integrated healthcare information network shortage bumping into Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement reductions, the right time is now.