So is US healthcare spending lacking in ROI? Thierry says there's more to the IT spending gap than simple overhead. "Everyone [in Europe] is looking at the US," he told me in a conversation at the HIMSS conference last week. "Innovation in healthcare is led by the US." Thierry had traveled from France to see some of the latest examples of innovative IT for improving quality and patient safety while controlling costs.
Yet not all healthcare IT has to cost a lot. I spoke with hospital CEO Tom Gregorio, head of Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, NJ, about his turnaround story. Gregorio led an investor group that purchased Meadowlands in 2010 for $17.5 million from LibertyHealth, which was happy to shed a facility losing $1 million a month.
Technology investments helped Meadowlands turn a profit within a year, Gregorio says. Some of the spending has been on shiny, big-ticket items such as hyperbaric chambers to attract patients and physicians.
But some of the most effective technology investment has been on telemonitoring for population health management. Meadowlands has installed inexpensive monitoring devices in homes and apartments of the elderly and diabetics, among other high-risk populations.