By Frank Hughes, Healthcare Technology Specialist and Regional Sales Director at FDI

Frank Hughes and Dr. Bob Morrow

Frank Hughes (pictured left) and Dr. Bob Morrow (pictured right)

The rising cost of healthcare in the U.S. was the focus of the August luncheon for the Houston chapter of the Healthcare Think Tank (HTT). Guest speaker Dr. Bob Morrow, Southeast Texas President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, addressed the question, “Why do America’s health care costs continue to climb?”

He led a conversation around the increasing cost of health care in the U.S. and some of the unique challenges that Texas faces as a state. For example, Texas has the highest uninsured population in the U.S. This puts a tremendous burden on the hospital systems as well as the state, county governments, and tax payers that shoulder the higher cost services. Unfortunately, Texas ranks 11th (worst) in affordability and accessibility.

Dr. Morrow gave insights on healthcare from the perspective of the only statewide, customer-owned health insurer in Texas. He did an excellent job of delivering multiple viewpoints of what is driving rapidly rising healthcare costs in Texas and across the country, guiding engaging conversation and responding to questions. HTT members came away with a better understanding of the U.S. healthcare cost conundrum that’s going to take government, insurers, providers, and us as patients to fix.

My angle on the conversation, in addition to being a consumer of healthcare, comes from what I do at Flatirons Digital Innovations. I work with hospitals, academic medical centers, and healthcare networks to address technology issues that may be adding to rising healthcare costs. One area is in data management and application portfolio improvements that can be achieved through data archiving and application decommissioning.

My team works with clients to identify legacy human resources, accounts payable, EHR/EMR, and other systems that may be consuming valuable IT budget. We migrate data from these systems to a consolidated archive and make access to archived information easy so users maintain their productivity. And we estimate how much can be saved by eliminating legacy systems altogether. The greater the number of legacy systems eliminated, the greater the cost savings.

Tackling areas of increasing cost like legacy systems may only seem like making a dent in factors that contribute to healthcare costs. Yet applied across Texas’ more than 400 hospitals and the 4,700 hospitals in the U.S., decommissioning costly legacy systems can make a difference.