A Global Perspective on Healthcare IT
Candace Stuart – Director, Communications & Public Relations
In 2017, CHIME launched its first international chapter in India and now is poised to open several more in Europe and elsewhere. Ricky Caplin, CEO of The HCI Group, has seen first-hand the opportunities and challenges healthcare IT brings to hospitals and systems around the world. Here are some observations, based on HCI’s interactions with customers in nearly 20 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific.
Differing Systems but Similar Goals
Healthcare organizations worldwide share a common goal even if they have cultural and national differences, Caplin observes. The United States, for instance, uses a multi-payer system while many other nations favor a single payer system. Either way, most clinicians strive to improve quality and access to care while giving patients a positive experience.
“No matter what kind of reimbursement model, we want to provide the best healthcare, keep people healthy and bring costs down,” Caplin says. Healthcare in the U.S. is more expensive compared to other nations and healthcare takes a bigger bite from the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). In 2017, healthcare spending per capita in the U.S. averaged over $10,000, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the highest of any OECD member. Health spending accounted for 17.2 percent of GDP in the U.S. last year, about twice the OECD average.
How do these other developed countries keep cost down while still offering quality care?
A Global Perspective
The HCI Group’s decision to expand its footprint globally has given the company a broad perspective that can be shared with its customers. “We get to see healthcare delivery all over the world,” Caplin points out. “This provides a holistic view for us to offer solutions and best practices from the biggest and best hospitals and health systems in the world.”
He highlights the Nordic countries and Singapore as models that could be used in the U.S. to bring down operating costs and increase investment in patient care. Both consider the long-term horizon when making a significant investment in health IT. “They don’t have a rip-and-replace mentality from a healthcare IT perspective,” he says of Nordic countries. Instead they look for quality and durability. “They say, ‘We want to buy the best out there, but it needs to last 20 years.’”
About 6,000 miles away, healthcare organizations in Singapore also make decisions involving healthcare IT with a long-term mindset. “Singapore has to be one of the most strategic countries in the world that I have visited,” Caplin says, citing their public utilities agency’s decision to build fresh water reservoirs to give the densely populated island a self-sufficient water supply. “Most of their decisions are very long-term thinking and they put a very good process around that. They make their investments count. When you look at their health system and the process they go through, they are making a lot of calculated decisions.”
A Place for Innovation
Despite its challenges with cost, the U.S. is considered a leader in healthcare innovation. In their latest Moneytree Report, PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights found that U.S. healthcare companies raised $5.4 billion in venture capital-backed funding in the third quarter of 2018. Biotechnology took the lion’s share of those deals. But investments in artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual care, data analytics and other heath IT innovations have grown exponentially in recent years.
“The U.S. is such a large country with vast resources and intelligent people,” Caplin says. “You can look at health systems in our country that have done an incredibly good job from the innovation and incubation going on.” In this way, the U.S. also serves as a model for health systems globally, with the U.S. continually pushing the envelope for what healthcare can and should be.
Through its international chapters, CHIME is positioned to share best practices and drive change globally. “Establishments like CHIME provide the opportunity to collaborate and bring joint solutions,” Caplin notes. “It is our personal, family, friends’, colleagues’ and neighbors’ health that is at stake. We should be working together.”