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Invisible cost of health issues: Beyond the cost of doctors and medicines

Invisible cost of health issues: Beyond the cost of doctors and medicine

When it comes to the rising costs in the healthcare industry, there are a wide array of culprits. The overwhelming strain placed on the healthcare system and the rising cost of pharmaceuticals are the more obvious targets when it comes to pointing fingers. The increase in business healthcare plans, the rise in the cost of living, and the ballooning population numbers all hold their fair source of blame as well. On top of these, there is a wide range of hidden factors that can contribute to the high cost of healthcare, some of which are more surprising than others. However, how can we reduce some of the hidden factors affecting healthcare costs?  

Hidden Costs

One of the main issues with our approach to healthcare is that it is in many cases a structure of sick care. Preventative measures are rarely followed through, and due to the high cost of hospital visits, many times health issues get put off until they become life-threatening. This alone can place a large amount of strain both structurally and financially on the healthcare system. There is a significant difference in treating small issues in a patient and having to provide life-saving medical procedures that can cost thousands of dollars. With the strides we have made in modern medicine, many of the more serious medical issues facing patients across the U.S. could be prevented or slowed with proper detection and medical care before hospitalization or surgery. This aspect alone accounts for one of the most substantial hidden costs in our healthcare system.

Health Issues

Another hidden cost is directly related to the shortage of doctors. With many medical professionals about to retire and a steady decline in new providers entering the medical field, the system is about to become more strained than it has ever been before. With so few healthcare providers trying to care for too many sick people, errors and blind spots become increasingly more common. Issues that would usually be preventable get glanced over due to the intense strain placed on caregivers and their offices, leading to more severe illnesses and more fiscal strain on healthcare providers everywhere.

Remedies

So what can we do about these invisible costs? One of the most recent innovations in the field of medicine is Artificial Intelligence(AI), also known as Machine Learning(ML). Though they sound daunting at first, the principle behind these systems is simple: to provide for a wider range of people, doctors need a tool that can help them track and analyze symptoms that could go unnoticed. Things like personal trackers and family medical history records could all exist in one easy-to-view location where doctors and other healthcare providers could track symptoms, suggest treatments, and catch potential issues long before they become costly. By using a system that can learn from millions of data points and translate that learning into a comprehensive healthcare system, we can protect patients everywhere. 

While AI and ML have their unique challenges, to control the climbing cost of healthcare we must start looking for innovative solutions. Otherwise, healthcare will continue to spiral until the entire system, and its patients, are in danger.  

Source(s):

 

https://www.cuspe.org/the-opportunities-and-risks-of-artificial-intelligence-in-medicine-and-healthcare/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2017/06/28/what-we-can-all-do-about-rising-healthcare-costs/#190124692f37

https://www.nationalfamilyplanning.org/document.doc?id=382

 

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