Corporate Updates

IBM releases another piece of its Healthcare 2015 initiative

How healthcare providers deliver care is going to change in the future – by a lot. That’s the message from Armonk-based IBM Corp. in the latest study from its “Healthcare 2015” initiative. Community hospitals will lose patients to networks of clinics, and more consumers will become medical tourists as they turn to overseas physicians as an alternative to high U.S. hospital bills. Edgar L. Mounib, health care lead for the IBM Institute for Business Value and a co-author of the new study, said U.S. hospitals will be competing on price not only with others in the same city and state but with facilities half a globe away. “Health care is no longer local, it’s global,” he said. At the same time, patients will seek care at nontraditional venues closer to home, like clinics at their workplace as the focus shifts to preventative care. “We treat the sick,” he said. “We should focus on improving health by engaging the citizen much earlier.” Mounib said he often is questioned about why IBM is seeking a leadership role in the health care debate, as he was this week when he presented the results of the study at the Hospitalar 2008 conference in Brazil. Mounib said Big Blue started the Healthcare 2015 project in 2006 in response to demand from clients who want to tap into IBM’s insight as a corporation that operates in more than 170 countries. Moreover, IBM needs to understand the global health care situation in order to provide care for its own 300,000-plus employees, he said. The newest study, the third in the series, addresses what health care providers need to do to keep up with changing needs. “The nature of this business is evolving and providers really should begin to rethink their role in the health care system,” he said. Technology will play a key role, he said, noting that of the 30 billion health care transactions that take place in the United States each year, 90 percent are conducted in voice, paper and fax. “It’s very ineffective and inefficient,” he said. “We believe technology is a key enabler for transformation, but we believe it alone is not going to solve the problem.”

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