While efforts targeted at achieving the Triple Aim are critical, we shouldn’t limit our scope by focusing initially on specific populations. There can be a much broader and compelling framework for improving population health for more diverse populations when imaging is included.
Imaging is a very powerful diagnostic, and in some cases, a definitive diagnostic. However, it is also among the top three cost and charge centers in hospitals globally. As such, it is easy to marginalize imaging as a “cost center” and simply reduce tests to reduce expenses. I’ve heard how some physicians, driven by cost, will delay a definitive diagnostic for patients because they think it’s too expensive or overused within their hospital.
I find that this perception of imaging reflects a much broader and alarming trend percolating across healthcare. Hospitals are right to focus on cost but it shouldn’t be at the expense of holding back exams that impact timing and appropriateness of care. The reality is that if imaging is injected at the right point in time for the right patient, not only does it improve patient outcomes, but it also improves overall operating costs.
Our future is in data-driven healthcare focused on performance and outcomes. We’re transforming imaging to be a player in population health. Much of the compelling potential benefits of imaging are because of its role in definitive diagnosis, but also as a key control point in tailored care. Imaging can not only provide the definitive diagnostic to identify the cause of a patient’s symptoms, but it can also give the definitive result that they are well or insights about whether or not a therapy is working. That is population health! It all comes down to the key question of: “What is the appropriate level of diagnostics and monitoring to manage a specific population?”
Philips is helping healthcare organizations answer that very question for themselves by examining clinical procedures in the larger context of better care throughout the health continuum. We help organizations streamline clinical care while monitoring and maintaining quality outcomes with targets for continuous improvement. We’re showing customers how to drive more efficiency and cost savings out of imaging by not simply reducing the number of imaging tests performed, but rather, reducing the per capita cost of diagnostic exams overall.
Philips understands that if we can help hospitals get imaging costs down that means it can be more impactful to the population overall. With careful appropriateness management tools, cost reductions would enhance the value of imaging and its ability to improve both care quality and outcomes.