Accenture’s recent Digital Affectability: Quantifying the Economic Impact of Digital Assets report taps into the cost-saving potential in the healthcare industry, finds an opportunity to save $60 billion via strategic investments in technology.
Researchers state that most of healthcare organizations’ buy-ins are focused on internal optimization, which is great for near-term goal achievement. But to bring value in the long run, investments should rather center on reducing disease cost burdens within specific therapeutic areas, among them diabetes, congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s, HIV, breast cancer and multiple myeloma. These diseases together affect almost 55 million Americans.
3 dimensions for digital investments
To find hidden opportunities for the areas above, the report suggests estimating the dollar value of digital assets across 3 dimensions: prevention / early diagnosis, intervention and monitoring. Speaking in numbers, applying various technologies to prevent, predict and manage congestive heart failure can save healthcare $2 billion in annual costs.
Overall, the cost-saving potential for 6 therapeutic areas can reach $60 billion (or $108 billion without risk adjustments), which translates into $24,184 per patient (or $49,866 without risk adjustments).
However, some therapeutic areas need a shift in their technological focus before they yield savings. Accenture has found that 80% of digital purchases are concentrated on intervention and monitoring, but this approach isn’t beneficial to all diseases. In Alzheimer’s disease, for example, 50% of investments’ potential value lies in early detection and diagnosis, like with patient health data analytics systems.
Hidden cost-saving opportunities
One of the key report’s findings is that the highest-impact investment options are often outside the largest and chronic diseases, which usually get the most attention in software development and implementation. Accenture claims that 50% of system costs can be prevented if healthcare stakeholders also target rarer diseases and conditions with lower prevalence.
It’s hard to say if the healthcare industry would choose the path laid out in the report, because there’s still much to be done digital-wise, even in high-prevalence diseases. For instance, chronic patients still need connected telehealth and mHealth solutions to stay motivated and supported throughout the care continuum. Perhaps, precision and evidence-based medicine solutions, health data analytics and machine learning algorithms can be among the technologies on providers’ to-buy lists, to ensure they cover both rare and widespread diseases.