The 2018 Philips Future Health Index assesses the state of global healthcare, based on comprehensive metrics of access, satisfaction, and efficiency in 16 countries. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the US isn’t measuring up. Philips U.S. CEO Vitor Rocha says the findings and recommendations of the report hinge on the critical concept of “value-based healthcare.” Rocha elaborates in this article for the World Economic Forum.
Even though the U.S. spends 18 percent of its GDP on healthcare (nearly twice that of other developed countries and by far the highest in the world), Americans aren’t seeing nearly enough benefit. Access to American healthcare remains a privilege, and life expectancy is dropping. Political gridlock and seemingly intractable insurance institutions aren’t making the situation any better.
One key solution, according to the report, is telemedicine. It would increase access to quality care and improve outcomes with a data-driven approach. Much like the transcontinental railroads solved America’s connectivity issues in the 1800s, telemedicine could “solve the zip-code-driven challenge of healthcare access… Healthcare delivery will no longer be tied to particular locations or structures.”
Fortunately, the adoption of telemedicine is on the rise in the US and powerful case studies underscore the benefits. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) operates the largest telehealth program in the country. And with more than 700,000 participants and a satisfaction score ranging from 88-93 percent, the VA program’s results are hard to argue with.
So if telemedicine has the potential to solve all our healthcare woes, why aren’t we seeing more ubiquitous adoption? Insurance, infrastructure, and the lack of information standardization all pose significant roadblocks. But ultimately, says Rocha, “it will take patients, providers, payers, government and non-profits to align with the idea that healthcare should be more seamless, more preventive, and in this case, more virtual.”