Internet usage has developed to be the most efficient, effective and cheapest mode of communication at the moment. These properties of the internet together with the opportunities that it offers can be used by investors and producers in the medical sector to their economic advantage. Since each and every operation in the medical sector demands for a degree of expenditure and some of these operations can employ the usage of internet, the adoption of internet usage in health care can help in reducing the costs incurred in the provision of health care both directly and indirectly. Direct reduction of cost is realizable from its cost effectiveness in communication while indirect reductions are obtained from efficiency and effectiveness of processes that involves internet usage.
One of the strategies of reducing medical care costs is through prevention of diseases. The use of internet to ensure preventive measures are observed by reminding and alerting patients to attend “preventive services, screening and disease management” (Emroy 1) can play a significant role in successfully improving the use of preventive measures to reduce costs. Besides, the use of internet in effecting reminders for these services, it has proved to be more cost effective than other modes of communications such as use of letters and phones that have been previously used. Internet usage to communicate with patients regarding appointments can therefore serve the dual purposes of reducing costs of medical care and communication.
The use of internet for communications among stake holders in the health care field is another avenue for cost reduction. Communications for making orders for medical suppliers is made cheaper with the use of the internet than the previously used modes. Making inquiries into the market of medical supplies has equivalently been made cheaper with the use of internet through suppliers’ websites. This, contrary to physical inquiries like visiting suppliers or even using print and visual advertising media, has proved to be less expensive in terms of cost as well as time which normally translate into cost. The internet communication along management system in a health care unit has also been identified to be cost effective especially if a health care unit covers a wider geographical area (NCBI 1).
Anderson et al. concurred with the idea of cost effectiveness when information technology is used to reduce costs of health care provisions. They argued that “service use, administrative complexity and lack of waiting list” among other factors are the causes of high costs of health care in the United States (Anderson et al. 1). They further argued that the adoption of information technology into the medical sector in would effectively reduce spending levels in a country’s health sector. Following the problems, cited by these authors, leading to high costs of health care, and the cost advantages of the internet usage, a move to integrate internet in health care sector can be a general step of streamlining the costs in the sector.
Costs involved in services like communications and research activities in medical centers can as well be reduced by the use of internet that has readily available resources. Management problems which basically depend on flow of information along management levels is also made easier and more instant by the use of internet for communication in health care sector. Efficient management and service delivery and monitoring, which can be achieved through internet communications in a cheaper way will have a further effect of increasing effectiveness in healthcare provisions which in the long run, will result in lower costs of processes in health care provision. The best way to use the internet to control cost of health care provision therefore remains with the acculturation of internet usage in the field of health care (Anderson et al. 1).
The use of information technology has also been identified to provide a “leaner operation” system in health care facilities which has the effect of reducing the cost of employing a large number of human labors. This will have the effect of reducing the expenditure incurred through the provision of health care in the form of salaries and wages to workers whom the industry can survive without. This is actually realistic since the electronic systems are cheaper in terms of maintenance and operation costs (Emroy 1). The idea of use of information technology has also been identified by the United States congress as a possible solution to reducing the amount of money spent by the federal government in health care provision. The legislators are therefore in support of the opinion that if adopted into the system of the health care industry, the use of internet will help in reducing the cost of providing services in the industry (Emroy 1).
Impact of the internet on the competition level in the health care market
Competitions in markets are normally determined by the level of information that consumers have about a product in the market. The price of a commodity is for example compared to the analyzed quality of the respective commodity together with the utility that is derived from the commodity. The case in health care market has on the other hand been different since the qualities of medical suppliers such as medicines have always remained unknown to consumers. There has therefore been lack of the basis of judging between commodities in the market as consumers have believed that more expensive medical products are the most effective. The development of internet has however led to increased level of information that is available to customers concerning these supplies. Consumers can easily search and access information regarding these products with more ease. The knowledge obtained by the consumers in comparison with prices of these commodities will enable them to have preference in the drugs that they purchase. Producers will therefore be forced to resort to marketing strategies in order to counter consumer’s attitude. This is therefore expected to increase the level of competition in the health care market (Litan and Rivlin 202).
Positive impacts of the internet on patient care
The United States of America is currently facing a shortage of personnel in the health care sector. This problem is projected to increase following a number of factors. On the other hand, the demand for health care services has been projected to increase in the country. Both the decrease in labor supply as well as the increase in the demand for health services is significantly attributed to the United States’ ageing of population. The ageing factor of the population has had the effect of a large number of people retiring from professions, including the medical profession, yet there is only a fewer number who can join the labor force to replace the retiring population. This poses a threat to the supply of health services to the growing demand market relative to its supply. There is, however, a solace in the application of internet services that can be more effective in the provision of some of the services offered in health care facilities than they are offered by pure use of human labor. Adoption of electronic facilities in healthcare provision has been identified to be a faster and more effective way in the provision of some of the health services. Operations like monitoring healthcare processes such as the recovery process of a patient or trends in elements of concern to the health industry have proven efficient when done through electronic means. Adoption of these facilities can therefore occupy vacancies being left in the industry. Communication through the internet has also been identified to have the capacity of faster and more efficient operations in terms of consultancy services.
The preciseness of internet communication will facilitate faster services by health care personnel thereby enabling them to serve the population that is expected to increase relative to the number of personnel in health care profession. Services such as “patient admission, billing, monitoring” among others have also been identified to be faster and more efficiently done through the internet rather that in person. The internet, through its efficiency can therefore improve health care provision by filling the gap left by the aging personnel besides introducing efficiency in health care. The use of internet in these perspectives has the potential of improving the care accorded to patients though increased efficiency of the overworked sector. The sector is overworked due to shortage of workers (Markets and markets, 1).
Anderson et al. Health care spending and use of information technology in OECD countries. Content Affairs, 2006. Web.
Emroy, David. Can information technology cut health cost. Knowledge Emory, 2008. Web.
Litan Robert and Rivlin Alice. The economic payoff from the internet revolution. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2008. Print.
Markets and markets. Global healthcare information technology (2009-2014). Markets and markets. Web.
NCBI. The costs and benefits of health information technology in pediatrics. NCBI, 2006. Web.