By Bart Foster
CEO of SoloHealth, a consumer-focused healthcare technology firm @Bart_Foster
Last Thursday the Supreme Court upheld the administration’s healthcare reform bill thus passing the biggest revamp of the U.S. healthcare system since the 1960s and setting the stage for a new, more widely available system for all Americans—not to mention a renewed political fight over its merits. A national healthcare reform is essential as our system is broken and in need of an overhaul. Overall, this bill is a positive step in the right direction. But, as they say, the devil is in the details. And there are a lot of details in this 2,500+ page bill.
As an entrepreneur in the healthcare business I see every day how our overburdened, over bureaucratic healthcare system fails. That failure is hitting America’s health and wallet hard. But the solution isn’t necessarily the government paying and providing for everyone’s healthcare; it’s giving people the tools and opportunities to take care of themselves—empowering the people. And often those types of changes rely on innovative technologies to produce consumer-centric solutions. Parts of this bill could stifle that entrepreneurial spirit that uses technology to innovate and drive our industry forward. The medical-device tax is one concern. The mandate that requires businesses of 50+ people to purchase insurance for their employees or face penalties (tax) is another.
One of the great things about this bill—and the discussions it has sparked over the past years—is it has put a spotlight on our broken system and got the industry looking for solutions. As a result, many new and positive tactics are already rolling out. Quite a few of these new solutions were derived from entrepreneurs (small business) and emerging technologies. Healthcare IT has become a very real and needed solution from electronic health records to healthcare exchanges to self-service health care. An overhaul of this magnitude should leverage technologies to create a more efficient and effective system. No question that big healthcare IT players will accelerate spending and innovate. But small businesses and entrepreneurs should be free to do so, too, without the fear that taxes might impede progress.
Together, we need to keep leveraging the latest technologies to help empower Americans to take control of their healthcare. An empowered consumer will be more likely to take preventive actions to ward of chronic health problems that lead to more costly issues. Awareness + Education = Action. We see this equation proved true from the consumer data on our SoloHealth Stations nationwide.
At SoloHealth, we operate by the philosophy that technology can empower consumers to a better, healthier lifestyle. Americans are take-charge people when given the tools to do so. Technology will play a major role in the future of today’s empowered healthcare consumer. And the industry is no stranger to embracing emerging technologies. SoloHealth received the FDA’s stamp of approval last month to begin our aggressive nationwide rollout. The FDA is also currently exploring the use of kiosks in pharmacies to educate, self-diagnose and dispense prescription drugs for certain chronic conditions. The opportunities healthcare exchanges can offer consumers—and the part technologies will play—are tremendous. All across the industry small businesses are being tapped to contribute to forward-thinking new ideas that embrace technology for a better consumer interaction and experience. Entrepreneurial Americans have been doing this since our nation’s founding. It’s part of what makes America so unique and great.
Today’s consumer is all about empowerment – what can they do for themselves. The combination of technology and today’s empowered consumer can quite literally transform our healthcare system for the better.
Industry associations and politicos have already vowed to repeal the medical-device tax among other portions of the bill. Republicans and Democrats will remain divided while conservatives will try to alter the law. Even the President on Thursday said he’d work to adjust the law where needed: “We will continue to implement this law, and we’ll work together to improve on it where we can.” Let’s hope that isn’t just political lip service, as this piece of legislation, although overall positive, does still have certain elements that need change.
Regardless of your political persuasion or opinions of the bill the Supreme Court on Thursday made it the law of the land. So we must work within these parameters—making adjustments and changes where necessary—to make a better future for our country. A big driver of that renewed future will come from the technology and entrepreneurial sectors. Any legislation should encourage and spur on our innovative engines.
America has long led the world in medical and healthcare solutions from new life-saving surgical procedures to advanced medicines to emerging technologies. Let’s not let anything stand in the way of our continued innovation and leadership. It’s quite literally our country’s health that is at stake.